As a proud alumnus of YES Brays Oaks, I am always thinking of ways to give back to the school that taught me how to think critically, make lifelong friends, and make financially sound decisions (thank you Ms. Straub!). Sometimes giving back is going to visit old teachers and talk to the underclassmen about how I handled being a YES student. Other times giving back means working for an organization that provides mentors to the very students who were once my peers.
With that being said, this summer I prepared a report on the impact SWAG To College has had on YES Prep schools such as Brays Oaks, West, Southeast and many others. It was an intensive process that required data analytics and viewing several survey responses. In the end, I learned a lot about the impact SWAG To College had on mentors and mentees, and about the identity of the program as a whole.
Here is what I learned:
1) SWAG To College is a very diverse program.
100% of mentors and mentees are black, multiracial, Asian, or Hispanic. 50 years ago this statistic would have been unheard of. This number represents the rapidness with which demographics are changing in this country and the wide ranging communities SWAG To College reaches. As a former YES Brays Oaks student, it excites me to know that a program like SWAG To College has the infrastructure to match young students from my community with mentors who look like them. Additionally, I think it is amazing that mentees can learn from mentors of a similar background.
2) SWAG To College has mentees from every YES school with a graduating class.
Even YES schools as young as Brays Oaks and West have at least one high school mentee in the program. SWAG To College does a great job of providing mentors for high school students regardless of how young or old the campus may be. In doing so SWAG To College tries to instill a culture of “giving back” to one’s community for the mentors.
3) SWAG To College has YES Prep alums from 22 colleges and universities serving as mentors.
Our mentors attend many types of colleges, such as liberal arts colleges, colleges affiliated with religions, Impact colleges, community colleges, and private and public institutions. The YES Prep alums who are mentors are affiliated with a diverse blend of college types that are different from each other in many ways, thus broadening the college experiences mentees can be exposed to.
4) YES mentees from Class of 2019 and 2020 make up 69% of the current SWAG To College YES mentee student body.
37% of the current YES mentees come from the Class of 2020, and 32% of the current YES mentees come from the Class of 2019. The fact that rising sophomores and rising juniors make up the majority of the program is nice because students who are exposed to mentoring as early as sophomore year can become more prepared for high school occurrences like the SAT and applying for summer opportunities.
YES Prep Public schools have been on the forefront of educational advancement in underrepresented communities for decades and it is a wonderful opportunity to assist them in their goal to get 100% of their students into colleges.
Report written by Chidozie Alozie
Introduction written by Karen Banda