Latino U Scholars

State
New York
Academic Level
Community-Based Organization
Issue Area
Access
Program Focus
Career/Workforce,
College Prep

Overview

Latino U College Access (LUCA) aims to increase college enrollment and completion for low-income, high-achieving, Latino youth who are first in their family to go to college. LUCA partners with four school districts in Westchester County, NY that are 50% or more Hispanic. 

LUCA is the only area college access organization solely dedicated to advancing Hispanic youth. LUCA guides and supports families early in high school to find colleges that meet academic and financial needs, improving the likelihood students will stay in college until completion. LUCA support Scholars for 6 years, in and through college, supporting transitions and providing mentoring and career readiness preparation.

Program Description

LUCA launched in 2012 to address inequity in access to resources and opportunity in higher education. Over 7 years, LUCA has grown to serve over 3,000 parents and students in 4 school districts with many corporate and community partners. LUCA engages families through bilingual, culturally relevant information sessions on how to prepare for, search for, and pay for college. LUCA also hosts FAFSA Boot Camps to boost applications for financial aid.

LUCA partners with school district guidance counselors and provides intensive individualized support from college search through college completion to 40 Scholars/year. Participants also benefit from a Summer College Knowledge orientation week on a college campus, free 8-week SAT test prep, essay writing workshops, and 1-1 mentoring. 

Once in college, LUCA provides workshops on time management, dealing with stress, diversity on campus, finding resources, career readiness and networking skills, mock interviews and resume writing.

Outcome

  • 100% high school graduation and college enrollment: In 2018, New York State Hispanic high school graduation rate was 69% and 78% in Westchester. 100% of LUCA Scholars graduated high school and entered college, compared to 59%-85% of Hispanics from LUCA target schools that attend college.
  • Increased enrollment of low-income, higher-achieving Latinos at very selective institutions: To date, 100% of scholars have applied to a combination of 4-year public and private universities. 99% are currently in college, on track to graduate within 4 years. 50% are enrolled in highly selective and very selective institutions like Barnard Binghamton University, Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, NYU and Princeton.