Giving Unites Community to Transform Lives Through Pathways to College Despite Pandemic

Youth-serving organization exceeds $2 million matching challenge from Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation

Pathways to College has reached its goal of exceeding $2 million to maximize a matching challenge grant from the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation. From 2020 through 2022, generous donations toward the match totaled more than $2,020,000.

To transform the lives of youth of color living in under-served communities, the Foundation committed $5 million to Pathways in December 2019, including $3 million in guaranteed support and the $2 million matching challenge.

“We are indebted to Ms. Winfrey for sharing our vision of opportunity for young people who are brimming with potential but often lacking access to the promise of both wealth and health through higher education,” said Judith Berry Griffin, founder and president of Pathways to College. “Her generosity ensures that Pathways will continue preparing African Americans and other high school students of color for success not only in college, but throughout their lives.”

“I am a long-time supporter of Pathways to College because of the way they diligently reach students who show an interest and aptitude for education, who just need a little support to ensure they have the opportunity to continue on to higher education,” said Oprah Winfrey, CEO, Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation. “We are so proud of the entire Pathways to College team and all the students, who show us each and every day why an organization like this is so vital.”

The match opportunity brought together a diverse community of givers representing more than half of U.S. states as well as Italy, with gifts from individuals ranging from $5 to $100,000. During the three-year match period, donors nearly doubled the amounts given—increasing 83%, and the number of donations more than doubled—increasing 107%, compared to the prior three years.

During the grant period, Pathways tripled the number of public high schools offering access to its after-school program, which has nurtured the dreams of nearly 4,800 “Scholars” since 2003.

Additional early accomplishments include establishing the Scholar Ambassadors program, which selects Pathways Scholars for a paid student leadership opportunity that deepens the organization’s longtime focus on social and emotional learning. The fully virtual National Scholars Program also launched to accommodate busy schedules and facilitate cross-state friendships.

While only 30% of students enter Pathways having been identified as “high achieving,” fully 100% of graduating Scholars earn college acceptance. Pathways has achieved these outcomes during each of the past 20 years, despite the challenges of the pandemic, which have disproportionately affected the very neighborhoods targeted by the organization.

A hallmark of Pathways is applicant selection based on potential, not standardized test scores or specific prior performance. In addition, the Pathways family of Scholars and teachers creates a warm and compassionate, safe and accepting learning environment centered around social and emotional learning. The Pathways curriculum focuses on the “soft” skills that research indicates are critical to academic and career success, including courageous leadership, critical thinking, and communication.

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Contact: Alyssa Alston, Director of Communications | | 202-924-1691

Pathways to College is an after-school program providing information, guidance and support to help African American and other students of color become the best high school students, college applicants and college students they can be to prepare for lifelong success. Although we welcome all students of color, we focus on under-served African American high school students, whose potential has been marginalized for generations.