Design, Sites, and Data Sources
The GRS pilot program targeted low-income high school juniors in two Tacoma high schools, Lincoln and Mount Tahoma. Approximately 100 students had the opportunity to participate in a four-day residential college experience and a three-week academic-focused summer program during the summer between their junior and senior years. Beyond the educational benefits, this summer programming allowed students to experience college life, get acclimated to the facilities and resources on campus, and learn more about admission requirements.
During their senior year of high school, participating students worked directly with a dedicated onsite college preparatory adviser, who monitors their academic needs and college application process. The advisers also conducted bimonthly group meetings, which include a college-readiness curriculum aligned closely with the high schools’ Navigation 101 programming, a life planning curriculum offered to TPS high school students through a College Spark college readiness initiative. The students were encouraged to take advantage of dual-credit programs, like Advanced Placement or Running Start (a Washington state program allowing high school students to take community college courses for both high school and college credit), to get a head start on earning college credits. Students who still had developmental needs continued to bolster their skills during their senior year and had an opportunity to enroll in a second summer bridge program before entering college. Students were also paired with a mentor who will guide them through the college application process using a curriculum created by CSF.
Incentives totaling up to $3,000 per student were used to motivate students’ participation in and completion of the high school and summer activities, their matriculation into postsecondary education, and their progress in the first year of college.
Based on the operational lessons learned through this pilot of the GRS program, the partners considered replicating, scaling up, and rigorously evaluating (with random assignment) the program at other high schools.