University of Rochester

University of Rochester, East High School Launch College Prep Center

August 18, 2011

Center Made Possible through Support of JPMorgan Chase Foundation

This fall, students at East High School will look no farther than their own building to find advice on the college admissions process, thanks to the University of Rochester's College Prep Center, which will provide support and outreach to students and their families during school hours. The center, which will officially open with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 8 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 25, at East High School (1801 E. Main St.), was launched as a pilot program in March 2010 with East High School, the David T. Kearns Center for Leadership and Diversity in Arts, Sciences and Engineering, and the University of Rochester's Office of Undergraduate Enrollment.

Funded by an $85,000 gift from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation to the Kearns Center, the College Prep Center will help East High School students envision themselves as potential college students, prepare for college entrance exams, and navigate the complex college and financial aid application processes.

During its pilot phase, the center was located in an East High School office, and was organized by Kearns Center employees who run the Upward Bound program and Enrollment staff members. Now, through the Chase Foundation's grant, the Prep Center was able to relocate to a second-floor classroom where students circulate daily. The grant also will allow the center to expand its services; one full-time staff member and two AmeriCorps members will be at East High School, building the center's curriculum and designing programming for students and their families.

Beth Olivares, director of the David T. Kearns Center, explained that having an established center at East High School has several benefits.

"The College Prep Center will allow us to assist any student, counselor, teacher, or parent at East who has questions about preparing for and being successful in college," said Olivares. "This kind of outreach is central to the educational mission of the Kearns Center, and demonstrates the depth of the University of Rochester's commitment to increasing successful educational outcomes for youth in the City of Rochester."

"Transitioning from high school to college can be an intimidating and discouraging experience, and can be especially so for those students who are the first in the family to attend college," said Malcolm "Sandy" Wolcott, president of Upstate New York Banking at Chase. "This prep center will provide students with the tools, resources and confidence needed to succeed at the next level of their education and beyond."

Upward Bound already has a solid foundation at East High School, having enrolled 22 students in its math and science program. Designed to motivate and support students in their academic pursuits, and to assist them in enrolling in college, the program provides hands-on educational activities, tutoring, and academic counseling for first-generation and/or low-income students from the Rochester City School District.

By building rapport with students, the center aims to enhance a culture of "college-going" so that students are comfortable with their ability to navigate the college search process. The Office of Undergraduate Enrollment has plans to facilitate workshops for students, faculty, and staff at East High School on topics such as preparing for the SAT, writing admissions essays and personal statements, and financing a college education.

"You have to believe and understand that every high school student can go to college," said Jon Burdick, dean of admissions and financial aid for the College. "At East, our counselors are meeting students not once but many times throughout the year to help them start, keep going, and graduate with that plan."

In addition, East High School students will have the opportunity to sign up early for community activities that the University sponsors, including ¡Soy Única! ¡Soy Latina! and Rochester Scholars, among others.

"My goal in creating this partnership with the University of Rochester was to eliminate the disconnect that students often have with college. I wanted to create immediate college access right within our school walls," said Anibal Soler, East High School's principal. "Although in its infancy, I believe that East High's College Prep Center will be a model that other urban high schools can use to bridge the college-going gap for students. Now, when a student has a question, the student can see a college counselor who can assist immediately. In my eyes, that's what's so powerful: immediate access to the experts."

Since 2000, the University of Rochester has enrolled nearly 55 East High School students (including transfer students) into its undergraduate programs. While at Rochester, four East High School alumni have enrolled in the Kearns Center's Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program, which helps students gain admission to and secure financial support for graduate programs. Two of the McNair Scholars have gone on to complete graduate-level degrees at Rochester and three more students are currently attending various graduate schools.

For more information about the ribbon-cutting ceremony, please call Melissa Greco Lopes at 585.260.6666 or e-mail