CollegeBound, a four-year-old, non-profit organization that assists city high school graduates attend college, is running low on money. This is a real setback; the program has produced a remarkable track record in a short period of time.
Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, the Greater Baltimore Committee and Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development created CollegeBound in 1988. Its mission was to increase the number of city students attending college by removing some of the financial impediments. In its short history, it has provided assistance to nearly 1,600 city students. Without this aid, virtually none of these students would have been able to attend college.
With a new semester starting within weeks, CollegeBound needs $150,000 to meet a growing demand. It also needs extra funds to provide financial assistance to another two dozen students who have qualified for help. These students do not need large amounts because the program provides only "last dollar" assistance. Its grants cover the shortfall created when the family contribution and the college aid packages are less than the cost of tuition, room and board and books.
The program also provides assistance to cover the cost of taking the Scholastic Aptitude Tests and filing college applications. Its small staff guides city high students through the thicket of college and financial assistance forms. The organization has also organized trips so city students can visit colleges.
CollegeBound is in the midst of an endowment drive. It currently has raised about $13 million of its $25 million goal. The cause of the immediate financial squeeze is the nation's modest interest rates. CollegeBound's interest income, which is used to cover annual operating expenses, is much lower than projected.
The first beneficiaries of this program are finishing college this year. None of the students who qualified for assistance this year should be turned away. Immediate financial attention must be focused on them. But long-term, CollegeBound has to augment its endowment to ensure a more secure financial footing. The investment this program makes in college education today will bear returns for our community for decades to come. It needs our support.