College Bound Initiative Celebrates Bright Futures of High School Graduates
According to statistics, a child born into the lowest quartile of income has a 9 percent chance of attending college compared to children born into wealthier families, whose chance of college attendance rises to 85 percent. Those at the College Bound Initiative (CBI) have been working tirelessly to alter that fact.
Established in 2001 by Ann Tisch, CBI is a coeducational college guidance program that stems from the Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN). Since its inception, the program has assisted nearly 7000 students in enrolling to college and has generated more than $265 million in financial aid. “I think this is a fabulous organization,” says CBI board member and former public school principal Gertrude Erwin, “this model is unique because we have full time counselors working with the students to get them into college. We have a tremendous success rate.”
On May 28, CBI celebrated the 2014-2015 high school graduates with the help of three of the most recognized names in entertainment, culinary arts and real estate: actress, hip hop artist, and writer Queen Latifah, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group and famously, founder of restaurant chain Shake Shack, Danny Meyer and Chairman of Global Brokerage and real estate magnate Stephen B. Siegel.
The class of 2015 has much to be proud of, with graduates going on to enroll at some of the nation’s premier educational institutions including New York University, Franklin and Marshall College, Columbia University and Cornell, among many others. Many student stories were shared, including that of Ghanaian Mark Manu, who is the first of his family to go to college. Manu credited his counselor Ms. Daly for helping him through the immigration process and helping him to secure a green card so he could apply to college. In the fall, he will be attending Gettysburg College with a full scholarship.
Amanata Kibbon, a student at Health Opportunities High School in Bronx who will be attending at NYU in the fall to study early childhood education, said that CBI made it possible for her to pursue her dreams. “The best thing was my advisor, Mr. Thomas. It was wonderful to have the opportunities that my parents were not able to have when they were young to be able to have an education and be able to attend college,” she said.
Each of the honored guests praised Ann Tisch and congratulated the graduating class. “This experience makes me feel that maybe I didn’t appreciate the privilege I had,” said Danny Meyer, “… I am so grateful for the opportunity to be part of this incredibly powerful program.” When asked what steps one should take to become successful, Stephen Siegel summed it up eloquently with “education, education, education”. Finally, Queen Latifah took the stage to thunderous applause and cited her mother, who attended college when Latifah was a child, as her primary inspiration. “Be prepared for people who will say you can’t do it,” Latifah advised, “and make sure you don’t believe them. Latifah went on to sing praises of the program and thank the counselors. “I’m very proud of the students who worked so hard to get to this point…each of these students is worth the time and the effort and the money,” she said.
Tisch commented on the success of the celebration and the organization as a whole when she said, “I think this shows the struggles, but more important the success that these kids have because of the work that they do and the work that CBI is doing.”
Currently, CBI is available to 13,000 students across 24 schools throughout New York City. Approximately 80 percent of CBI graduating seniors will be the first to attend college in their family. #