College Ready Grant

At-risk students who fall even moderately short of academic benchmarks in eighth grade are unlikely to catch up and become college ready in high school. Only one in five places into college-level English upon graduating high school, and just one in 10 places into college-level math. The rest—a sizable majority—place into remedial courses, and face bleak odds of ever completing college.

Our College Ready grant tackles this sobering reality head on by funding established programs equipped to help at-risk high school students improve math and English achievement, so they arrive on campus ready to succeed in college-level courses. The time, attention, tutoring, and skill-building activities these programs provide, through qualified educators and trained tutors, translate into brighter futures for students in college and beyond.

2015-2017 Grants


We are now reviewing all complete applications for grants to fund two full academic years' worth of extra academic services for at-risk students. Applicants will be notified in mid-February whether they have been selected for the final review phase, and final funding decisions will be announced in April.


Completing college is a proven way for disadvantaged students to build better lives, but too many never make it past their first year on campus. Why? There's a stark college readiness gap. Even among those admitted to college, a sizable share are placed into one or more remedial courses that promise to catch these students up—but that too often sap their spirit, weaken their resolve, and strain already fragile finances. It's no surprise that students from low-income backgrounds, students of color, and students who are the first in their families to go, complete college at much lower rates than more privileged peers.

Being prepared to succeed in college-level math and English is especially crucial. This can be measured by how students score on college placement tests like the ACT. A shocking 81% of at-risk students taking the ACT fall short of benchmark scores for college readiness in math, 77% fall short in reading, and a solid majority of 59% fall short in English.*

Because learning gaps tend to widen over time, it's very difficult for students to make up ground in high school. ACT has reported troubling outcomes that illustrate the problem our grant seeks to address:

  • When it comes to reading benchmarks, only 19% of low-income students who are moderately off track in grade 8 get on track by grade 11 or 12.*
  • With math benchmarks, only 9% of low-income students who are moderately off track in grade 8 get on track by grade 11 or 12.*
  • Even among low-income students who are on track in grade 8, only 62% remain on track by grade 11 or 12 with reading benchmarks and only 48%—less than half—remain on track with math.*

* ACT, Catching Up to College and Career Readiness: The Challenge Is Greater for At-Risk Students, 2014


We know from making one-year College Ready grants in the past that extra academic support works; disadvantaged students in funded programs have increased their math and English skills, and earned scores closer to benchmarks for predicting success in college courses. We believe that an additional year of extra support and instruction will move students even closer to college readiness.

So we're expanding our 2015-2017 College Ready grants to give students in funded programs two full academic years' worth of proven support. We are eager to learn how the added year translates into added achievement for these students, who have so much to gain from higher education. We expect to see more of the graduates of funded programs succeeding in college courses their first semester, positioning them for longer term success in college and ultimately in their careers.


Contact Program Manager Nikki Wachter at or (888) 889-3299.