The idea for CollegeBound started in 1988 with a city-wide challenge. Baltimore’s labor market was changing rapidly and the city needed an increasingly college-educated workforce. Business and community leaders quickly joined together and responded, including the Greater Baltimore Committee, Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development (BUILD) and then-Mayor Kurt Schmoke. They looked at the city’s public schools and saw dedicated teachers, counselors and administrators. But they also saw students who–despite everyone’s efforts–were not getting the resources they needed to reach college and graduate. Structural gaps existed in three specific areas: college advising in the public high schools, lack of accessible scholarship money, and “Last Dollar Grant” gap funding which makes up the difference between financial aid and what a student’s family can afford. To address these three specific gaps, our founders created the CollegeBound Foundation.
CollegeBound started small, but the the vision was always grand. Today, 30 years later, CollegeBound has helped tens of thousands of low-income and first-generation Baltimore City students realize their dreams of a college education. CollegeBound now employs 19 full-time College Access Program Specialists, or CAPS, in the Baltimore City Public Schools. Specialists create dedicated college centers within their high schools and work year round to assist students with the college application process. On the financial side, CollegeBound administers an annual competitive scholarship portfolio of almost $3 million which also includes the CollegeBound Urban Scholars Program. CollegeBound’s Last Dollar Grants–of which more than $6 million has been given since our founding–have literally provided the last dollars that sent over 1,880 students to college. We believe in the transformative power of a college education for Baltimore City’s public school students, reflected in our mission statement: “To College. Through College.”