A Better Chance executes its mission through its signature College Preparatory Schools Program (CPSP), which focuses on underrepresented people of color in six main geographic areas: the Northeast, New York Metro Area, the Southeast, the Northwest, the Southwest and the Midwest.
The CPSP has three main components: Recruitment, Placement and Scholar Support.
Recruitment: A Better Chance engages personnel at public, charter and parochial schools (known as “feeder” schools) and staff at community-based organizations to identify students of color who show the potential to flourish academically, but otherwise would not have the opportunity. Recruited candidates must complete the A Better Chance application, which is released in early August every year. Applications consist of three parts: Parent Section, Candidate Section and the School Section. Graded writing samples, report cards, two years of transcripts, recommendations, a personal statement and standardized test scores must be submitted to complete the application. Every January, the Admissions Committee, consisting of each area’s Program Manager and the National Director, decide which candidates will continue in the placement process based on the quality of the application and interviews and refers these applicants for review to the Member Schools that represent the best fit for each potential Scholar.
Placement: A Better Chance works closely with admissions staff at Member Schools to place qualified students whom A Better Chance has identified through its application process and helps secure financial aid for students who are placed in those Member Schools. Once placements are made, applicants become A Better Chance Scholars.
Scholar Support: A Better Chance holds college readiness workshops in each of its regions that cover topics including standardized tests, financial aid and scholarships, and the college admission essay. These workshops are designed to focus Scholars on how to gain admission to competitive four-year colleges. In addition, the organization conducts career and workforce skills development workshops to augment the opportunities Scholars receive in their rigorous academic environments with experiences that lead to professional growth; holds New Scholar Orientations each summer; visits Scholars at Member Schools; engages Member School liaisons to track Scholars’ progress; and cultivates relationships with well-known summer enrichment programs, such as the Experiment in International Living.
A Better Chance is led by the President, Sandra E. Timmons, and the current Chair of the National Board of Directors, Ronald R. Pressman, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of TIAA-CREF. The National Board of Directors has 17 members, all of whom are top-ranked leaders in their respective fields, and hail from some of America’s most reputable companies. For a complete list of the National Board of Directors, click here.
The Management Team of A Better Chance includes the Director of Finance and Administration, Linda Ashfield; the New York Headquarters’ Office Manager, Claudia Bayuelo; the Director of Development, Sunil Oommen; and the National Director of the College Preparatory Schools Program, Chantal N. Stevens.
The A Better Chance College Preparatory Schools Program's (CPSP) key asset is its core team. The CPSP team members include experts in secondary and higher education admissions and youth development, and together have over 50+ years of experience working with families of color and preparing students for academic and life success. Various team members have presented at conferences, including the National Partnership for Educational Access, Educational Records Bureau and the People of Color Conference. Also, several team members currently serve or have served as board members or advisory members at various nonprofit organizations and schools.
The Alumni network is another key asset as evidence of our success. The network offers Alumni (graduates of the A Better Chance program) the opportunity to advocate among their alma maters and other Member Schools; serve as mentors and role models for current classes of Scholars; and serve as a pipeline of leadership and funding for the organization. Together, these resources serve as the intellectual and human capacity and capital that moves A Better Chance’s programming forward.
A Better Chance develops a business plan that is approved by the National Board of Directors annually. The specifics around the goals and strategies laid out in the business plan can vary from year to year, depending on the needs of the populations we serve. However, the following are the baseline measures by which A Better Chance measures its success and progress annually:
New Scholars: Approximately 500 talented youth of color will have been identified, stewarded and coached through the recruitment process to gain admission and be set up with the skills and tools to succeed in their new schools.
- A Better Chance maintains an electronic database on all incoming applicants and charts them through the entire application process (which may take up to 12 months). The staff transfers the data from our customized application (which each of our 300+ schools have agreed to accept in lieu of their own application) into the database; A Better Chance uses this data to help direct recruitment and tailor outreach to best attract strong students capable of thriving at high-performing college preparatory schools.
Currently Enrolled Scholars: Approximately 2,000 currently enrolled Scholars will have benefitted from enrichment opportunities and personalized support to excel in secondary school, have access to a college education and become future leaders of our country.
- Scholar Support Programs and Activities: There are numerous activities throughout the year; for example, by the end of a given year, A Better Chance will have conducted College Readiness Workshops around the country and three New Scholar Orientations.
- One method to evaluate these activities’ effectiveness and the overall program’s success is through the annual survey of all A Better Chance Scholars. The survey poses questions about all aspects of the Scholars’ academic experience, including quality-of-life on campus, course difficulty, satisfaction with A Better Chance staff support, etc. Results from these current Scholar surveys or program evaluations are used to help determine how to improve programmatic initiatives that serve to round out a Scholars’ experience. According to a recent survey of Scholars, A Better Chance staff ranked high in all categories of Scholar support. For instance, when asked “how well do A Better Chance and your A Better Chance Program Manager support you with the following issues at your school,” 61% and 59% answered positive in the issues regarding “college planning/preparation” and “building your leadership capacity,” respectively.
Alumni Relations: Periodically, we conduct surveys and focus groups among Alumni to gather evidence of A Better Chance’s success and to determine how best to engage Alumni in organizational operations and future growth.
Updated as of October 9, 2012