Help for low-income or minority students Are you a low-income or minority student in middle or high school who wants to gear up for college...

Share story

Are you a low-income or minority student in middle or high school who wants to gear up for college?

A number of free programs offer tutoring, mentors, summer enrichment, SAT preparation, college-application and financial-aid guidance, and more.

Most have some qualification guidelines, such as family income or what school you attend.

Here are a few to check out.

University of Washington Upward Bound Program,, 206-543-9288.

One of several federally funded Upward Bound programs serving Puget Sound-area schools with classes and high-school graduation and college preparation guidance for high-school students, including tutoring; senior project help; SAT prep, classes for high-school credit; college-application and financial-aid guidance.

The program also offers a six-week summer program with a lecture course that simulates the college experience as well as math, language arts, college guidance and other elective courses. Next summer’s program is tentatively slated June 24-Aug. 2, 2008; the rest of the program continues year-round. Students must remain in the program until graduation.

Eligibility: Cleveland, Nathan Hale and Franklin high school ninth or 10th graders who are low-income or the first generation in their family to earn a college degree. At least 35 new students accepted each year.

Application deadline in January/February through participating high schools. Application, essay, letters of recommendation and income documentation required.

Other Upward Bound programs: South Seattle Community College at 206-768-6676 serves Evergreen and Tyee high schools; and the City of Seattle works with Seattle University at 206-386-1027 to serve Garfield, Ingraham, Rainier Beach, Chief Sealth and West Seattle high schools.

Washington Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement,, 206-543-0562.

Designed to increase the number of people of color and women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields through publicly and privately supported programs. Various programs serve 5,000 public- and private-school students statewide.

Year-round program connects students with mentors for industry and engineering competitions; SAT prep; essay-writing help and college planning. Separate boys’ middle-school, girls’ middle-school and co-ed high-school summer science workshop at UW also offered.

Eligibility: Interest in math or science, with online applications due in April for summer programs. Helps students write essays and plan for college; college tours, two-week summer programs for middle- and high-school students exploring fields in science.

Lakeside Educational Enrichment Program,

A partnership between the Lakeside School and Seattle Public Schools with the goal of motivating and empowering students to succeed in high school and aspire to go to college.

During the six-week summer program intended to boost students’ confidence, students take math, English and geography classes and also learn to row, camp, hike and give public speeches. They also engage in art projects. The program follows students through graduation, providing college counseling, community-service opportunities and college tours. At least one spot at Lakeside has been given to a LEEP student each year for the past 10 years, so they have a chance of attending Lakeside with financial aid.

Eligibility: Students around the Greater Seattle area who are in eighth grade and are going into their first year of high school. Priority goes to low-income students. Approximately 100 students accepted each year. Apply in February. Contact Wendy Russell at 206-368-3600.

Portfolio Project (previously known as YMCA Black Achievers), 206-322-6969.

New program organized by United Negro College Fund with YMCA Black Achievers Programand Thurston Group of Washington State offers 3-hour sessions over nine Saturdays each fall at Seattle University. Mentors coach up to 60 students in SAT prep, researching financial aid and more. Participants’ application fees waved for many UNCF schools. Similar winter and spring classes possible.

Eligibility: Priority to Seattle public-school seniors. Apply to Shomari Jones, Meredith Mathews East Madison YMCA,

TRiO Educational Talent Search Program at South Seattle Community College, (click “Programs & Courses,” then “High School Programs”), 206-768-6474.

A federally funded program that helps low-income and first-generation college students get into college.

Career and college-exploration workshops, college tours, financial-aid and scholarship workshops. Located at Chief Sealth, West Seattle and Cleveland high schools. Also at Denny Middle School, Career Link Academy and Middle College High School.

Eligibility: Middle- and high-school students who attend the designated schools and who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents, low-income and first-generation college students. 600 students served each year. 2007’s graduating class of 175 earned more than $2 million in scholarships. Applications open year-round through high schools’ career centers, or by calling TRiO.

Other Talent Search programs: University of Washington serves north Snohomish and south Skagit counties, including Mount Baker and Cascade middle schools; Sedro-Woolley, Marysville, and Mt. Vernon high schools. Call 206-616-1948 or visit

College Success Foundation’s HERO program (formerly Washington Education Foundation HERO program),, 425-416-2000.

HERO — Higher Education Readiness Opportunity — is for 8th- to 10th-grade students earning Bs and Cs who aren’t planning for college, but have potential. Its goal: to increase the number of men of color who enroll and graduate from college by helping them better prepare.

HERO tracks participants through biweekly progress reports, academic advising, after-school programs, leadership development, motivational speakers and college visits. Also provides SAT and WASL prep, and one-week, residential August academy for 8th-graders preparing for high school and for 10th-graders to prepare scholarship essays for the Achievers Scholarship Program.

Eligibility: 8th- to 10th-graders at Cleveland, Kent-Meridian, Truman, Mariner, Foss, Foster, Lincoln, Clover Park, Mt. Tahoma, and Eastern Washington’s Davis and Mabton high schools, plus eight feeder middle schools. The program targets African-American and Latino boys but accepts girls. Program includes 600 students each year. Apply through selected school staff at participating high schools by early January, or by contacting school HERO staff or HERO program.

Rainier Scholars, or 206-407-2111.

Plan ahead. This long-range program targets Seattle “talented students of color” who are low-income and entering 6th grade, and aims to prepare them for “long-term success and college graduation” through placement in rigorous Seattle public- or private-school academic programs, with 10 years of support.

Eligibility: Applications begin in December for 5th-grade students of color whose families are low-income.

Education Access Network,, 206-527-8400.

Provides low-income students with free or low-cost programs and classes to help them succeed in college — including SAT and ACT prep, college admission-application preparation, college planning and basic review. Most classes meet at the UW.

Eligibility: “Highly motivated” but financially disadvantaged students 8th grade and older may apply for seasonal courses open to public and private students in Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Edmonds, Renton, Burien and Tacoma. Details:

College Access Now,, 206-252-2312.

This Seattle-based free program helps low-income high-school seniors with SAT/ACT preparation, college applications and financial aid.

Eligibility: Applications open in the fall in counseling departments or at CAN’s Web site for up to 30 Garfield and Franklin high-school seniors at each school with a minimum 2.0 GPA; low-income and/or the first generation in their family to attend college, with demonstrated potential and motivation to pursue higher education.

University of Washington Dream Project,, 206-616-5791.

Partners UW students with first-generation and low-income students at Chief Sealth, Renton, Tyee and Foster high schools. As part of a UW class, high-schoolers get mentor help from college students with the admissions process, including test prep, writing application essays and finding scholarships. A select number of participants who are eligible may receive UW scholarships.

Eligibility: Applications, available through high-school counselors, are due in spring of junior year for students facing varied hardships.

Making Connections,, 206-685-1090. Outreach program offered through UW Women’s Center provides strategies and skills training for up to 100 9th-12th graders to prepare for higher education and careers in science, technology, engineering and math fields. Students attend workshops and receive mentoring for help with financial aid, editing college applications, SAT prep, college visits, company site visits, parent support groups, and scholarship searches.

Eligibility: Participants include students who are underrepresented in higher education and are the first in their family to apply to college, and attend: Cleveland, Chief Sealth, Garfield, Franklin, Nathan Hale, Ingraham, Rainier Beach or West Seattle high schools. E-mail for applications.

U-DOC,, 206-616-5522.

Three-week, full-time July program (including classes, room and board) offered by the University of Washington School of Medicine’s Office of Multicultural Affairs introduces students to college life, and medical and dental professions. Participants shadow local doctors, work in an anatomy lab and prepare for science and mathematics.

Eligibility: Applications begin Dec. 1 with March 1 deadline. Fourteen Washington state high-school sophomores or juniors from disadvantaged backgrounds and/or from groups underrepresented in medicine and dentistry are selected. Apply online at (click “Pipeline: K12”). For more details, e-mail Felicity Abeyta at

Science Splash,

Four-week summer science-enrichment program at Seattle University and Islandwood Camp on Bainbridge for 30 middle-school girls who work with scientists on field research, leadership and community-service opportunities.

Eligibility: Up to 30 girls reflecting a diverse background and entering the 8th grade are selected from candidates who apply by March 1.