Pathways to College: Expanding the College Pipeline for More Than 20 Years

“Pathways helped me get to the leadership positions I’m in today.” –Saul, Pathways Class of 2008

Pathways to College is celebrating its 20th anniversary as a nonprofit after-school program that prepares overlooked students of color in under-served communities for success in college and in life. Since 2003, Pathways has nurtured the dreams of more than 4,800 “Scholars” in 22 sites.

What makes Pathways unique is that while only 30% of students enter the program having been identified as “high achieving,” fully 100% of graduating Scholars earn college acceptance. This is especially significant for the Class of 2023 – students who were in 9th grade when the pandemic began.

According to data provided by the independent National Student Clearinghouse, 90% of Pathways graduates enter college.

Select highlights from the past two decades include the following:

  • In 2008, Founder and President Judith Berry Griffin was awarded the Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Education, for the program’s innovation, inspiration, and impact on students.
  • Of Scholars who earned a higher education degree:
    • The most popular undergraduate degree is criminal justice.
    • More than one-third majored in STEM-related fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
    • Graduate degrees span leadership in a range of fields: biology, business, computer science, education, English, health sciences, law, management, music, psychology, public administration, social services, and veterinary science.
  • Pathways enabled Scholars to remain constructively engaged in learning during the COVID-19 crisis.
  • During the isolation of the pandemic, Pathways developed its blended-learning National Scholars Program, which has accommodated students in seven states, while enabling cross-state friendships. Its effectiveness is credited to using the program’s founding curriculum and application, as well as building on the organization’s Associate Scholars Program, which supported students through distance learning for 16 years in 34 states.
  • Pathways developed a paid student leadership opportunity through the Scholar Ambassador Program, a work-based learning opportunity with responsibilities for professional learning, peer recruitment, marketing, and other areas of leadership.
  • For the past 13 years, Pathways has annually published Scholar Voices, a juried literary magazine to recognize excellence in artwork and writing by current Scholars – and more recently, by program alumni.
  • Additional accomplishments include exceeding a $2 million matching challenge grant from the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation, along with being awarded the maximum SEL in Action grant and the Luminary Award for organizational excellence.

Pathways was created as a program of A Better Chance in 1991, and the first sessions were held on Saturdays in Newark, New Jersey. Its process for identifying students with untapped potential was developed with Howard University researchers.

Local teachers are selected and trained to implement a research-based curriculum focused on the skills and habits of mind related to college and career success, including courageous leadership, critical thinking, and communication. More recently, teachers have begun using the Harvard Business School case study methodology to help students develop problem solving, analytical thinking, and reflective discussion skills.

Scholar evaluations celebrate the program’s positive “family” learning environment, as well as the impact of college and cultural field trips.

Donations will ensure that even more Scholars are on the pathway to college.

Pathways extends special recognition to Oprah Winfrey, the Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation, Harpo Inc., the Salim and Barbara Lewis Foundation, and the Turrell Fund, for their generous support over many years.

In addition to deep appreciation to former and current board members and individual donors, Pathways is extremely grateful to the following organizations. Collectively, these contributions have allowed the organization to transform lives.

  • Alexander Bodini Foundation
  • Alleluia Fund for Outreach
  • Allies in Action Membership Network (YFJ Consulting, LLC)
  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority
  • AmazonSmile Foundation
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • Arkansas Community Foundation
  • Aurora Management Partners
  • Bank of America Charitable Foundation
  • Bausch & Lomb
  • Beckman Family Foundation
  • Ben J. Altheimer Charitable Foundation Inc.
  • Brookfield Asset Management
  • Chad School Foundation, Inc.
  • Citibank
  • Clara Elizabeth Jackson Carter Foundation
  • Coghlin Companies, Inc.
  • Colgate-Palmolive
  • Cooper Family Foundation
  • Dobkin Family Foundation
  • Dun & Bradstreet
  • Eastdil Secured
  • Educational Services Associates
  • EOLA Capital
  • First Niagara Bank Foundation
  • Foundation for Newark’s Future
  • Freeman Spogli & Co.
  • GE Capital Real Estate
  • GE Foundation
  • Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation
  • Goldentree Asset Management
  • Goldman, Sachs & Co.
  • Griffith Family Foundation
  • Hayman Company
  • Henry Cornell Foundation
  • Higher One, Inc.
  • Hines Interests LTD Partnership
  • Jane and William Curran Foundation
  • Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona
  • Jon & Mindy Gray Family Foundation
  • Jupiter Realty Corp.
  • Land Tiger Holdings, LLC
  • Legacy Foundation, Inc.
  • Lightyear Capital, LLC
  • MacFarlane Partners Investment Management
  • Marianthi Foundation
  • McKinsey & Company
  • Merck Partnership for Giving
  • MGP Real Estate
  • Morgan Stanley
  • Muller Company
  • Nazar Carpet Co., LLC
  • NewAlliance Foundation, Inc.
  • Newark Celebration 350
  • Newark Public Schools Foundation
  • New York Life Foundation
  • Northern Cross
  • Novartis US Foundation
  • NoVo Foundation, EducationFirst, and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
  • Orion Operations, Inc.
  • Pfizer Foundation
  • ProQuest Management
  • Prudential Foundation
  • PSEG Foundation
  • RLJ Development
  • Scopia Management, Inc.
  • Seedlings Foundation
  • Shames Family Foundation
  • Shamrock Holdings of California, Inc.
  • Simmons Bank
  • Skillman Foundation
  • State Street
  • Straus Asset Management, LLC
  • Szaras Companies
  • Tishman International Companies
  • TransGlobe Property Management Services
  • Unilever United States Foundation, Inc.
  • Venterra Realty
  • Victoria Foundation
  • Warburg Pincus, LLC
  • Warnaco, Inc.
  • Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation

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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.