Only 8 percent of low-income students who are academically qualified to be admitted to a top-tier U.S. college or university will ever submit an application. The other 92 percent apply to less selective and lower-cost schools, often located close to home, in the mistaken belief that these are the only schools they can afford, get into or succeed at. Hoxby and Avery, The Missing “One-Offs”: The Hidden Supply of High-Achieving, Low-Income Students, Brookings Institution Report, 2013.

    Key strategies to unlock a difficult door.

Invest in the prep.

Expert assistance to help these students compete for admission and aid is a modest investment with potentially enormous return.

Tap into big endowments.

Position scholars to receive full or near-full scholarships from schools well able to provide them. (e.g., Yale, MIT, Harvard, Williams). Tuition, room, board, books and supplies are subsidized by the accepting school. Leaven donors fund the guidance needed to gain admission and get those scholarships. They also help with necessities a college aid package won’t cover (e.g., a laptop, winter clothes, dorm room basics).

Enrich comprehensively.

Leaven partners with others to provide scope and depth to our students. RevolutionPrep delivers academic reinforcement and standardized test prep online. The Fab Lab teaches coding, 3D-printing and computer design skills. Internships with Selby Gardens, Sarasota Memorial Hospital and Laurel Civic Association create research experience and service learning. Brown, Duke and Yale sponsor pre-college enhancement programs.

Define success as graduation.

Getting in is not the same as getting through. The trajectory Leaven envisions for its scholars is to acclimate, flourish and finish in four years. With little or no debt.

Make sure the education fits the student.

Guarantee to meet 100 percent of the student’s demonstrated financial need throughout all four years.
Premier Academics
Offer nationally ranked majors and rigorous academic experiences.
Achieve graduation rates of 90 percent or more and excellent post-graduation outcomes.
Complete Support
Support low-income students on campus with comprehensive academic and social support systems.