September 17, 2009

YES Prep: Getting to the Finish Line

This case study explores the “nuts and bolts” of how YES Prep Public Schools, a charter organization based in Houston, Texas, succeeds in preparing low-income students not only to graduate from high school, but also to enter college ready to meet the challenges of a post-secondary education.

Our support doesn’t end when students step on a college campus.  Our support for students ‘ends’ when they graduate from college. (Donald Kamentz, Director of College Initiatives)

No matter how well prepared students are academically and how much the YES Prep team does to prepare them financially, socially, and culturally for life on a college campus, some students will inevitably hit roadblocks along the way to graduation. With a rapidly growing alumni base (450 as of the summer of 2009, with most still in college), YES Prep no longer has the resources and capacity to maintain a hands-on approach to supporting every student throughout his or her college years. Therefore, the organization is building the kinds of supports that provide alumni with the personal connections that experience has proven can help these students make it to the postsecondary finish line.

A big part of the organization’s alumni strategy takes advantage of the resources that already exist on and around college campuses. The college counseling staff makes sure students are fully aware of available on-campus academic and personal resources. In addition, YES Prep strives to match every college student with a local community mentor or friend of YES Prep who will take a personal interest in their well-being and progress.

Finally, YES Prep holds organized alumni events (including alumni college forums and professional development days) to serve larger groups of former students and provide them with opportunities to remain connected to the YES Prep community. “What our students have told us is that they most value the personal relationships they have built,” explains Kamentz. “We work to maximize what’s out there to ensure that our students are connected to their college or university, to that community, and to completing their college education.”

Next: Beyond College >>

Creative Commons License logo
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license are available in our Terms and Conditions.