Waukegan to College (W2C)

Waukeegan to College (W2C)
Academic Level
Community-Based Organization
Issue Area
Key Personnel
Program Focus
College Prep,
Parental/Family Engagement


An in-depth research study found that, although several academic programs were available in Waukegan, none included parents in their programming. Waukegan to College (W2C) began with bi-lingual one-on-one counseling and workshops for parents and students. Tutoring and mentoring were added later that year. Programming expanded several times and now includes: Read to Achieve, summer enrichment programs, Expanding Horizons–cultural and workplace visits outside of Waukegan, a math basics program, and a Parent Leaders program where they are trained in the Juntos curriculum by N.C. State Univ. and facilitate monthly college-awareness workshops for their peers. W2C provides many services to help students and families prepare for college including: Counseling and workshops, tutoring, SAT/ACT prep, math skill building with Khan Academy, Read to Achieve, college visits, Expanding Horizons, and one-on-one help with admissions applications and essays. Among the comprehensive set of services provided, W2C’s monthly counseling remains the cornerstone. Students are assigned an academic advisor who provides individualized support such as helping students take ownership of their futures, becoming accountable for their successes/failures, advocating for themselves, and assuming leadership roles. They also encourage students to step out of their comfort zones – to take honors/AP classes, to attend summer camps on college campuses, or to start clubs at school.

Program Description

W2C creates brighter futures for students, families and the community by preparing students to enroll in and graduate from college. Ultimately, W2C wants to see improvement in students’ grades, matriculation to college and graduation from college. Goals/requirements for all students includes:1. Setting specific goals with their academic advisor2. Attending tutoring if he/she receives a C or below in a core class3. Taking or being scheduled to take at least one honors or AP class by 11th grade4. Taking four years of math, science, English, social science, and foreign language5. Attending a summer camp, completing community service, attending monthly workshops6. HS juniors attend SAT or ACT prep, eligible HS seniors must complete the FAFSA, HS seniors must complete a min of six college applications.


W2C tracks improved academic performance and college retention. W2C students compared to Waukegan High School (WHS) students:

  • W2C students were 92% Latino compared to 77% at WHS. 
  • Four-year HS grad rate: W2C: 100%, WHS: 75%.
  • College matriculation: W2C: 100%, WHS: 52%. 
  • Average ACT scores: W2C: 23.6, WHS: 16.9. 
  • Percent college-ready: W2C: 90%, WHS: 18%. 

Evidence of improved academic performance of high school W2C students:

  • On average, over 80% of W2C students in English and 75% of W2C. students in Math either maintained As or Bs or improved their grades. 
  • All W2C students increased ACT scores by an average of 1.6 points. 
  • All completed their FAFSA and applied to an average of 10 colleges. 
  • All students were accepted to an average of seven colleges

Data on college retention:

  • First year students who continue to second year: 78% Second year
  • Students who continue to third year: 100%
  • Third year students who continue to fourth year: 83%
  • Fourth year + OR % of students who graduate:100%