Blog

#CollegeNowAt50

Wow – has it been a busy start to the school year! In the past few months, our advisors have started back in their schools; we helped host Cleveland Goes to College with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and the Higher Education Compact; we hosted our biggest bi-annual Bag Lady Luncheon to date; and we launched our 50th Anniversary! That’s right, we are celebrating College Now’s 50th birthday this year. We have an exciting year ahead of us, and we hope you will all join us for the ride!

We’ve been going through old files and photos, and we’re feeling a little nostalgic, so we thought we’d share that nostalgia with you. For this post, we’re going to take you all the way back to the beginning.

In 1967, six forward-thinking foundations donated $16,150 to College Now (then the Cleveland Scholarship Program, or CSP); that is equivalent to $118,000 in today’s dollars. This funding helped launch the pioneering work of helping Cleveland’s public school students gain access to college, and we are eternally grateful!

These earliest foundation funders of record are:

  • Shirley & Robert C. Coplan Family Fund: $1,500 (equals $11,000 today)
  • The Benjamin S. Gerson Family Foundation: $250 (equals $1,800 today)
  • The George Gund Foundation: $7,500 (equals $55,000 today)
  • The Hankins Foundation: $2,500 (equals $18,000 today)
  • Kate Ireland Foundation: $2,400 (equals $17,500 today)
  • The Perkins Charitable Foundation: $2,000 (equals $14,600 today)

With these funds, CSP became the first college access organization in the country, bringing an innovative college and career access advising model to Northeast Ohio students. This work was born out of the understanding that it takes more than just money to help low-income, first-generation students enroll in postsecondary programs – it takes creating a culture of “college knowledge” in school buildings and among students and families, which we found to be most successful when physically putting a college and career access advisor in schools.

We commend and thank these funders for their faith in our fledgling program in 1967 and for their ongoing generosity, leadership and tenacity; during the last 50 years, these six philanthropic organizations have contributed an astonishing combined total of $7.6 million.

These organizations, plus our many other generous partners, donors and community supporters, have helped College Now transform our college access model into the program that it is today. We have expanded to now serve students in more than 70 schools and community locations across four Northeast Ohio counties. Our audience has grown to encompass high school, college and adult-age students. Our menu of services has grown to include a robust mentoring program, services for students as young as middle school and loan counseling for students post-graduation, along with our traditional college and career access work.

As we continue into our 50th year, we sincerely hope that you will join us on this journey. Follow us on social media, where we will be posting interesting facts and 50th anniversary updates with the hashtag #CollegeNowAt50 – and share with us your own experiences with College Now (or CSP!) over the past 50 years. We’re excited to share our story, and we hope to hear yours.