Pathways to College has proven its success in places as disparate as Newark, New Jersey, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and Detroit. It achieves its results by supporting a small, select team of teacher-leaders and motivated high school students with varying degrees of educational accomplishment as they work to achieve academic success and then use that success to lead school change. Remarkably, in places where academic failure is commonplace, 100% of Pathways’ graduating seniors win acceptance to college and persist there at rates significantly higher than the average for students attending underserved public schools. We call our results “change from the bottom up.” With involvement in Pathways, students’ aspirations rise and they begin to apply to some of the most selective colleges in the United States. In addition to colleges local to their home communities, Pathways Scholars have been accepted at a broad range of colleges and universities including such highly competitive institutions as Smith, Harvard, Morehouse, Spelman, Emory, Stanford, Wellesley, Amherst, Rutgers, Penn, Holy Cross and The University of Chicago.
The example of discipline and dedication the students provide, and the richness of their experiences and successes, have a significant effect on all teachers and students in a given school. Pathways teachers additionally affect other teachers with whom they work formally and informally, as they share ideas and methods. Evaluations indicate that graduation rates, college applications and student aspirations improve throughout the schools where Pathways is present.