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MAY 2004

Bank Street College of Ed & Goldman Sachs Prepare Students for Top Colleges
by Sybil Maimin

After four years of rigorous academic, entrepreneurial, and leadership enrichment activities, the 43 students in the first class at the Institute for Leadership, Excellence, and Academic Development (I-LEAD) at Bank Street College of Education, are about to graduate. Known as Goldman Sachs Scholars, participants come from six inner-city Catholic High Schools in New York City. Founding partners The Goldman Sachs Foundation and Bank Street hope to level the playing field and prepare bright, highly motivated youngsters for selection to top colleges where they can receive the education necessary for community leadership and participation in the global economy. As explained by Maxine Roberts, academic advisor to this year's class, parochial schools are chosen because, “public schools get a lot of services, but Catholic schools are seen as having a wealth of knowledge about their students but not the services to help them succeed in getting into select colleges.” The results, as seen through this first class, are encouraging. In the benchmarks of enrollment in Advanced Placement classes, PSAT and SAT scores, and acceptance to top colleges including the Ivies, I-LEAD students are outperforming peers in their high schools as well as national averages.

The program offers opportunities that would otherwise not be available to these youngsters and includes summers, Saturdays, and after-school requirements. The first summer involves a 3-week residential academic program. Leticia Domenech of Cardinal Spellman High School attended Polytech University in Brooklyn where she studied writing, chemistry, business, and college exploration and had the college-like experience of living away from home. “It was very challenging, but it all pays off in the end,” she says confidently. The second and third summers involve the options of travel abroad, attending a college program for high school students, leadership experiences, or community service. Dyan Wright of Spellman studied political science at Howard University. “I didn't think it would be this much work but I realize that in the end the work has a purpose,” she reports. Others have attended an 11-day youth leadership conference in Washington, DC, and some have traveled out of the country. So far, I-LEADers have gone to 15 countries in 6 continents including Ghana, Thailand, Australia, Chile, Spain, and the Sioux Nation. At Bank Street sessions, in addition to academic enrichment, participants take PSAT and SAT prep classes and college application and essay writing workshops which include tips about financial aid and interviewing skills. Two 3-day tours to look at colleges—to upstate New York and to New England—are offered. This hands-on experience is an eye-opener for many and opens up questions about college “fit” which might not have been considered previously.

The dedicated staff of I-LEAD sees their responsibility as going beyond helping the youngsters get into competitive schools. They want them to stay and succeed. Maxine Roberts hopes to help her advisees learn about summer internships while in college, an experience “that mattered most for me.” I-LEAD Director Richard Rivera concurs. “From my perspective, the success of this program will be in four years when they graduate from college. Getting them in is just the beginning. Graduation is what it is all about.” He will also measure success by how much “they give back, their sense of service and helping others.”

At an open house at Bank Street where the impressive young scholars showcased their program and accomplishments thus far with films of their activities and witty and sophisticated skits and performances, Goldman Sachs partner Steven McGinnis spoke of the “tremendous opportunity for students. It will pay off and will give you a chance to differentiate yourself from others. Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something and please do not take the program lightly.” Speaking to the many proud parents in attendance, he advised, “Help them take risks. They will fall down but they will get up. Victory tastes better after you fall down.” Bank Street Dean of Continuing Education Fern Kahn praised the staff of I-LEAD for their tireless work and good instincts. Addressing the fact of the demands of the program, she enthused, “I feel good about them working hard and being stressed out. It means something is happening.” Participating in I-LEAD are All Hallows, Aquinas, Cardinal Hayes, Rice, Cardinal Spellman, and Academy of Mt. St. Ursula high schools.#

Education Update, Inc.
All material is copyrighted and may not be printed without express consent of the publisher. © 2004.