College Connect

Academic Level
Community-Based Organization
Issue Area
Key Personnel
Program Focus
College Prep


Launched in Spring 2008, College Connect (CC) is a family-based college access and success program. Each fall, CC recruits high school juniors who live or attend school in the Mission District (which has some of the lowest performing schools in California), will be first-generation college students, are on-track academically, and have at least a 2.5 GPA. The program selects students who CC believes can be successful in a 4-year college, but who might not enroll without outside support. The program is free to participating families and includes support through college graduation. The staff works with high school seniors to make their final college decisions, enroll, negotiate financial aid packages, and sign up for housing. Students attend pre-college transition workshops before beginning classes. Once in college, programming consists of mid- and end of term check-ins through various methods including surveys, phone calls and in-person meetings. Tutoring is offered to local college students, and CC encourages those away to connect with services on campus. Mentorships and career programming is offered to all College Connect students throughout the year.

Program Description

The College Connect program was designed to support first generation Latino and immigrant youth to be prepared for, accepted into, and graduate from college. CC strives to help students understand educational equity, gain access to higher education, and understand how they can use their education to catalyze community change and economic empowerment. The program has five goals:
1) All participants in the cohort program will attend college immediately following high school graduation, 90% will attend a 4-year university
2) All participants in the cohort programs will graduate within six years of college entry
3) 80% of O’Connell High School students eligible to attend a 4-year university will apply and be accepted to a 4-year school
4) 75% of all O’Connell High School graduating seniors will apply to a college or vocational program
5) College cost will not be a barrier to college success for CC students. 100% of students will apply for at least two outside scholarships and receive at least $5,000.


College Connect currently serves 159 students and alumni. 71% of those students are Latino/a. Among the most recent high school graduates, 22 out of 25 (88%) students will enroll in 4-year universities and 3 will enroll at community colleges. 84% of College Connect students continue to pursue their college education, almost 4 times higher than the California average college persistence rate of 23% for first generation Latino college students. The persistence rate for Latino College Connect students is 70%. Of the first four cohorts of 60 students, 53% of them graduated college in 4 years, and 22% are persisting. 73% of the 60 students are Latino/a. Among the Latino/a students, 49% have graduated and 22% are persisting in college. The most recent cohort raised $422,300 in scholarships, which was almost $17,000 per student. To date, College Connect students have raised over $3 million in scholarship dollars, continuing to leverage their financial aid packages. Mission Graduates expanded their high school services to John O’Connell High School in the fall of 2016 and is already seeing great results using proven programming best practices from College Connect. In the College and Career Center's first year at John O’Connell High School, 98% of UC/CSU eligible students submitted college applications, which translates into 40 of the 41 high school seniors, a 55% increase from last school year and the highest rate the school has ever seen.