The Issue: Disadvantages for Low-Income Students
A college education helps many people attain meaningful careers and achieve success. But to get into college, students must first compete against their peers on standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT. Often, students with financial means can get an educational boost by studying with tutors or a test-prep course. This extra preparation, however, is a luxury that many families cannot afford. In the Oakland Unified School District in 2009, more than 70% of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, meaning their households were below a certain poverty line. Many low-income students who aspire to attend college cannot afford test preparation, which can improve their scores and thus their college options. Community programs and free tutoring, however, can help level the playing field for standardized exams, giving all students an equal chance at success.
The Campaign: Providing a Four-Week ACT Prep Course
All donations to this Grassroots campaign will be used by Aspire Education to tutor low-income students for college-entrance exams. For every $400 raised, Aspire Education can provide its four-week ACT preparation course for one low-income student from the Bay Area. Every Saturday for four weeks, students who aspire to go to college meet at a local high school, community center, or the YMCA teen center in Berkeley for an ACT test-prep program. Lessons focus on math and reading skills, essay structure, and test-taking strategies to help students achieve high scores. Though Aspire Education charges fees on a sliding scale for test prep and tutoring, it does not turn away students based on need and often helps cover the cost with scholarships for students with limited financial resources.
Aspire Education believes that education is the cornerstone of community. Aspire trains students to attain it through a dual curriculum of private tutoring for students, regardless of their ability to pay, and afterschool study halls and test-prep classes for groups. Professional tutors work with youth in a variety of subjects, including math, chemistry, writing, and foreign languages. But these lessons go beyond basic study sessions—tutors build relationships with students while teaching them about mitochondria and how to craft a persuasive argument. Their primary mission, along with helping kids succeed in school, is to transform them into lifelong learners and to inspire new educators.
For the past two decades, Aspire's community reading-buddies program has also been leading the charge for education by working to improve literacy rates. Through this program, high-school and middle-school students receive pedagogical training and act as one-on-one mentors for preschoolers, blending reading activities and games into regular lessons.
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