Mobilizing University Capital to Foster Pathways of College Access for Underserved Youth
The capital of Florida engulfs and neighbors some of the most impoverished zip codes in the state. Through a university and community partnership, college access programs have been instituted at local Title I middle and high schools to provide a continuity of academic provisions—creating early college access opportunities for low-income students through afterschool programs. Aiming to narrow the socioeconomic college enrollment disparities between underserved students and their wealthier counterparts, the program has provided students with academic support, mentorship, a three-week residential college-prep summer program, and college and cultural tours at no cost to participants. These efforts are fiscally and logistically made possible through the federal community service work-study program, grants, and university campus partnerships. The success of the program highlights the practicality of designing and improving college readiness and student success efforts through university and community collaboration. To date, the university program has served over 2,500 low-income middle and high students—rising to the call of civic engagement to strengthen the college pipeline for underserved communities.