On May 1, 12 middle-school students from Harlem boarded a plane from New York City destined for Burlington International Airport in Vermont. Upon arrival, they headed to Middlebury College for a whirlwind afternoon-taking a campus tour, meeting with college officials, and interacting with college students.
The event was the culmination of a semester-long mentoring program coordinated by the Cornwall-based nonprofit, College For Every Student (CFES), to expose this urban group to the larger world beyond their home community, with the ultimate goal of encouraging and enabling these youngsters to successfully pursue a college education.
Founded in 1991, CFES works with some 120 K-12 schools in 20 states, as well as 200 partner colleges, to help underserved students gain access to and succeed in college.
The middle school students were from Middle School 45 in East Harlem, N.Y., also known as the STARS (Striving Together and Reaching Success) Prep Academy. In January of 2009, these twelve Scholars were chosen to participate in an e-mentoring program with college scholar-athletes. The students spent the semester e-mailing with college mentors, discussing everything from the transition from eighth grade to high school, to college academics.
"The visit to Middlebury opened up a new world for the Harlem students," said CFES President Rick Dalton. "These sorts of encounters raise aspirations and performance-key for steps toward college success."