With Support from Citi, Chicago's Urban Prep Academies to Expand Project GOLD and Improve Graduates' College Experience

Support from Citi Community Development will broaden availability of career guidance, academic support, resource counseling, emotional and social support

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Chicago – Today, Citi Community Development and Urban Prep Academies announced a commitment to expand the school's Project GOLD (Getting Our Lion's Degrees) initiative to bolster the college success rate of Urban Prep graduates. The school, whose graduates have a 100 percent acceptance rate to four-year colleges, will increase its capacity to provide ongoing support to its alumni so they are better prepared to handle the academic, financial and social challenges associated with higher education. The announcement was made at a school assembly attended by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Project GOLD is an innovative effort to support Urban Prep graduates with

  • Optimal course selection and course load based on career aspirations
  • Tutorial assistance through on-campus resources like writing labs and individual tutors
  • Financial coaching for students and their parents, including emergency funding when necessary
  • Summer job placement and career counseling
  • Emotional and social support, including regular contact and mentoring

Urban Prep's four-year record of 100 percent college acceptance for its graduating seniors is an achievement made even more notable by the challenges many students face outside the classroom. More than 85 percent of its students, most of whom are African-American, qualify for free or reduced lunch, and many of its students enroll at Urban Prep at least two grade levels behind. Despite those obstacles, Urban Prep's 83 percent college retention rate is far above the national rate of 70 percent for all college students and 42 percent for African-American males nationally.

With $150,000 in support from Citi Community Development, the expanded Project GOLD will reach the 300 Urban Prep graduates currently enrolled in four-year colleges as well as the school's current college-bound students.

"Entering college is an exciting and also a challenging time in anyone's life," said Helen Hammond Redding, Citi's director of community development in Chicago. "However, many high school grads, like those from Urban Prep, are the first in their families to do so and many of them, especially African-American males, do not receive the ongoing support they need to ensure successful college careers. Project GOLD will train and support them as they strive to earn their college degrees."