(SAN DIEGO) – It’s an 11-year commitment, but the results are undeniable. For the lower-income, minority middle schoolers at Nativity Prep Academy in San Diego, the comprehensive support they receive carries them all the way through college and into their first professional job.
It’s a groundbreaking project that has Nativity prep students quadrupling the college graduation rates of their peers.
“It really takes 11 years to help change that cycle of generational poverty that many of our students are coming from,” said Jessica Hooper, VP Institutional Advancement, Nativity Prep.
Home to historically underserved, low-income students from San Diego, this tuition free catholic school, Nativity Prep, calls it the “Eleven Year Journey” and it begins in middle school, but follows students after they leave Nativity into High school and through college.
“The high school students come back once a week, so we work with them starting in ninth grade and helping them transition into high school,” said Xochitl Alvarez, Director of Graduate Support, Nativity Prep. “We are making sure that they’re finding the resources at their high school and looking for those opportunities for tutoring, for internships. And the 12th graders, well we work with them on their college applications, financial aid, scholarships.”
So as a first generation college graduate yourself, first in your family you know exactly what these kids are going through, what they’re thinking and what they need.
The educators at Nativity Prep say they’ve cracked the code so to speak when it comes to creating first generation college graduates, and now they want to share those insights with as many schools as they can, and this is a big one.
Showing the students and parents that they truly care is huge on this campus. Angela Leyva’s daughter currently attends the school and she also has sons who’ve graduated from the program. This mom says the resources are invaluable and effective.
“Sometimes I might not know the answer on who to go where to find that resource or how to have them succeed in life in terms of school and education and Nativity does that for you,” said Leyva.
Sometimes just seeing that it can be done is powerful for these students with challenging situations, and they discover that in the span of 11 years they can move mountains for themselves and their families.
“I’d say the power of our program is that while we are focused on academics, you serve a student, you educate a child and you change the trajectory of a family,” said Hooper.
The current college graduation rate for Nativity is 83 percent.