10th Annual College Fair Brings Higher Learning Within Reach for Thousands of Houston’s Students

YES Prep Public Schools & KIPP Houston Public Schools

HOUSTON, Texas (October 4, 2016) - Over 3,000 high school juniors and seniors from YES Prep and KIPP Houston will explore over 150 colleges and universities from across the country at their 10th Annual College Fair at the NRG Center today.  With college graduation as the ultimate goal, the two charter networks have organized a joint fair this year for their students who are predominantly first-generation college-bound from underserved communities of color. Participating students will gain exposure to colleges and universities that they have not yet considered and/or deepen their knowledge about a particular institution.
According to the Lumina Foundation, 56% of new jobs in the U.S. will require some type of college degree by 2018. Yet, in Houston’s low-income communities of color, only 10% of students earn a college degree. YES Prep and KIPP Houston exist to eliminate this inequity by preparing students succeed in college and in the 21st century workforce. At both charter networks, over 80% of students are from low-income households, over 95% identify as Black or Latino, and a majority are first-generation college-bound. YES Prep and KIPP offer robust and comprehensive programming to ensure these same students get to and through college. Bryan Contreras, Executive Director, KIPP through College at KIPP Houston explains that, “college culture is instilled in students from the moment they step through our doors. Our youngest elementary school students can tell you the year they matriculate to college. In fact, our Pre-K students are members of the class of 2031. With the support of the Greater Texas Foundation and their help in forming the United for College Success coalition, this type of collaboration will impact more students across our city and state.”
By the time they graduate high school, a YES Prep or KIPP student has participated in a variety of college counseling activities that support them as they explore, apply, and select a college.  “Our College Initiatives program focuses not only on getting our students into college, but on building the knowledge, skills and mindsets they need to truly succeed in college and beyond,” said Rhiannon Carabajal Killian, Senior Director of College Initiatives at YES Prep. While most KIPP and YES Prep students make college visits, the college fair allows students to consider a wider pool of institutions in order to make informed decisions about what schools to pursue.
YES Prep and KIPP have hosted a college fair for their students for the last nine years. They joined forces to celebrate their 10th anniversaries this year, deepening a partnership that leverages organizational strengths and economies of scale. “We embrace organizations like KIPP who have similar missions to ours because you can influence far more children’s futures through partnership than you can alone. By making college accessible to more students, we will ultimately transform Houston,” said YES Prep CEO Mark DiBella.
Both networks are a part of the United for College Success coalition and have formal partnerships with colleges and universities that commit to supporting YES Prep and KIPP alumnus through college graduation. In addition to structured support programs, like mentoring, partner institutions also agree to meet the full demonstrated financial need of selected students. Trinity University partners with both networks in this way and participates in the College Fair every year. “These partnerships benefit KIPP and YES alumni, but they also enrich the Trinity community by providing opportunities for other Trinity students and graduates to be involved. You'll find Trinity students mentoring our newest students from KIPP and YES Prep and Trinity alumni teaching in the KIPP and YES schools,” explained Gail Roberson, Director of Admissions for Trinity University.
“Together, KIPP and YES are guiding more than 25,000 students on their paths to and through college,” stated KIPP Houston’s Superintendent Sehba Ali. “This day is exciting for our students and families who have worked very hard to have choices for college. Today, they learn about their futures.”
About KIPP Houston Public Schools
KIPP was founded in Houston in 1994 and has since grown to 200 public schools in 20 states and DC serving 80,000 children. Houston is KIPP’s largest region, with 26 public schools serving nearly 13,500 students and an additional 1,000 alumni in college and beyond. While only eight percent of students from low-income communities across the nation graduate from college, KIPPsters achieve a 51 percent college graduation rate, tracking from the 8th grade. www.kipphouston.org
About YES Prep
Serving over 11,600 students in 16 campuses across Houston, the mission of YES Prep Public Schools is to increase the number of students from underserved communities who graduate from college prepared to lead. YES Prep received the inaugural Broad Prize for Public Charter Schools, is nationally ranked by the U.S. News and World Report, The Washington Post, and others, and has consistently been named one of Houston’s “Best Places to Work” by the Houston Business Journal.
About United for College Success
The United For College Success coalition (UFCS) is a first-of-its-kind partnership between charter schools and traditional public school districts. Through close collaboration and data transparency, UFCS members address college persistence challenges facing economically disadvantaged, minority and first-generation college students. UFCS was founded in 2013 through a generous grant from Greater Texas Foundation (GTF). The coalition’s eleven member districts are: KIPP Houston Public Schools, YES Prep Public Schools, UPLIFT Education, KIPP Austin, KIPP Dallas-Fort Worth, KIPP San Antonio, IDEA Public Schools, Spring Branch ISD, Harmony Public Schools, Houston ISD, and Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD (PSJA).