Closing The Achievement Gap for Students of Color

A YMCA college readiness program, Y-Scholars, was developed to address the inequities and close the achievement gap for students of color, helping over 5,000 students graduate high school since it started at Garfield High School in 2004. Y-Scholars strives to provide support for students of color and their families with the tools needed to successfully navigate preparing for college, applying for scholarships, financial awareness, mentoring with alumni of Y-Scholars, and providing a continued pipeline of support during the transition from high school to higher education.

How Y-Scholars Works

Y-Scholars partners with schools by placing Y staff onsite during and after school to help increase student success. This creates a cohort of students and staff who grow and advance together. Y-Scholars has successfully retained 90% of program participants through these focused efforts that include communication with students and parents/guardians, bi-monthly meetings with cohort teachers, weekly tutoring sessions by grade level, out of school time enrichment opportunities, academic intervention, and college readiness guidance.

Students join in the spring of 8th grade, participate in a transitional summer program at, and remain in the program until they graduate. Their freshman and sophomore year they are placed in cohorts together in preparation for enrollment in advanced placement and running start courses. Juniors and Seniors enroll for these courses, preparing them for future success at a 4-year university.

In addition, students receive academic, social, and emotional support throughout their time in high school. Y-Scholars strives to provide underrepresented students and their families with the academic and leadership skills needed to prepare for, apply to, and succeed in, post-secondary education. Ultimately, developing future leaders of color that our community needs now more than ever.


Before joining this program, I knew I wanted to attend college, but I didn’t have anyone or anything that could push me to help discover specifically what career path I wanted to take or how to get there. Being involved in this program allowed me to have the support and resources needed to get to where I wanted to be after high school.

Dawit, Y Scholar Participant



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