One such organization that has been helping families give their children a good education is A Better Chance. For 50 years, A Better Chance was established to increase educational opportunities for children-of-color nationwide. In this interview, Johnathan Gibson (A Better Chance Senior Program Manager for the Northeast Region) shares more about the history of A Better Chance, and how your children can participate in this unique program.
A. Since 1963, A Better Chance has been opening the door to educational opportunities for thousands of young people of color in this nation. Our mission is to increase substantially the number of well-educated young people of color who are capable of assuming positions of responsibility and leadership in America society. We carry out our mission through our signature College Preparatory Schools Program (“CPSP”), which annually recruits, refers and supports about 500 A Better Chance Scholars at more than 300 of the nation’s leading boarding, day and public schools.
A Better Chance significantly contributes to the pool of leaders of color who can compete effectively in schools, colleges and the workplace. In our long history, more than 14,000 Alumni have walked through the doors of opportunity and into leadership positions in all sectors of industry, science and the arts.
Q2. Who are some of the famous alumni that have gone through the program?
A. Some of our 14,000 alumni include: Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Singer/Songwriter Tracy Chapman, Zale Corp. CEO Theophilius Killion, CNBC Anchor Bertha Coombs and Luis Ubinas, former president of the Ford Foundation.
Q3. Can you describe some of the 300 member schools?
A. A Better Chance works with our nation’s leading independent day, boarding and public high schools. A Better Chance places Scholars into more than 300 college preparatory middle and high schools across the country. Schools are admitted to membership after completing an application and upon the recommendation of the College Preparatory Schools Program staff. Our goal is to increase and nurture affiliations with independent schools and select public schools in communities that are committed to diversity, financial aid allocation, academic excellence and personal and social growth.
Q4. What are some of the benefits that students gain by going through A Better Chance?
A. We provide access to a network of 300+ college-preparatory independent schools and 22 top-performing public high schools;
We streamline the application process for families who are looking for a high quality educational opportunity;
We match students with schools, based on profile and fit;
We advocate for student candidates throughout the admissions and financial aid process;
We provide support and on-going access to resources for families and students enrolled in member schools
Scholars have access to an extensive alumni network
A. Applying to A Better Chance is a three-phase, 18-month process. For example, if a student is currently in the 7th grade, he/she would be applying for placement at a Member School for the 9th grade.
Phase 1 is the applicant phase. We consider the following criteria regarding admission into our program: grades, benchmark test results, teacher/counselor recommendations, state standardized testing and the application itself. For those applicants whom we feel are a good fit for our program, they will enter into Phase 2 and become a candidate in our regional cohort.
Candidates in Phase 2 will have their applications referred to some of our Member Schools after they submitted updated recommendation letters and have taken the standardized test required by the schools with which we work. Once a candidate is offered admission by a Member School, and a contract is signed by the family, then the candidate will enter Phase 3 of our process and become a Scholar. All Scholars will attend a New Scholar Orientation prior to attending their new Member School in the fall.
Q6. How competitive is the program in terms of the number of students who apply versus the number of students who are accepted?
A. Our admission process is competitive. Nationally, we receive approximately 2700 applications each year. Typically, we place about 500 Scholars per year.
Q7. How can parents help their kids when it comes to improving their chances for acceptance? Can students apply without being recommended?
A. Parents can assist their children in a variety of ways. They can ensure that their child’s application has been thoroughly reviewed for completeness and that it is free of errors. Also, parents can encourage their children to continue to do their very best academically.
Q8. There has been an ongoing debate regarding the "achievement gap." What is A Better Chance's take on the matter?
A. Why Is A Better Chance Important?
We are building the pipeline for future leaders and helping to close the achievement gap for children of color.
The achievement gap continues to grow between those who obtain the best education, and those who do not
Students of color remain underrepresented in the top American schools that are still the surest route to achievement and influence
A Better Chance accelerates the path to success for talented young people who might not otherwise have the chance to realize their fullest potential
Q9. What are some of A Better Chance's goals moving forward?
A. Our vision moving forward is as follows:
Expand: Create More Future Leaders of Color: Increase the number of youth served annually 75%, from 2,000 to 3,500 by 2020
Support: Deepen Scholar Support: Ensure Scholar success during the transition from high school to top colleges and universities across the country
Sustain: Create a Comprehensive Alumni Network: Fortify the pipeline of diverse leaders for the future
Q10. Is there anything else that you would like to share?
A. Over the course of the last 50 years, A Better Chance has been a driving force in the effort to increase educational attainment among youth of color.
To learn how you can get your child ready for A Better Chance, visit them at www.abetterchance.org.
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