A Detroit charter school is funding the first year of college for 124 students, if they fulfill a senior-year contract calling for good grades, completed homework, extra reading and taking college readiness and study skills classes.
University Preparatory High School, which serves low-income black students, is offering “tuition, room and board, books and fees at any public Michigan university — and a $5,000 scholarship to any senior who attends a private or out-of-state school.” Each family must take out a $2,500 subsidized loan so that they have “skin the game,” says Doug Ross, chair of New Urban Learning, the nonproft that manages the school.
Arthur Burse, 17, told classmates why he picked the “school-college-career path.”
“You make more money and you live longer. A high school degree means an extra $250,000 in your pocket. A college degree means an extra million. Most drug dealers in our neighborhood have big bankroll in their pockets, but they live with their moms and grandmoms. They flash, but they ain’t rich. The big money comes from owning your business or getting into a profession like law or medicine or engineering. They all require college degrees.
“Most boys in our neighborhoods who sell drugs have two options: They either die or go to jail. None of those seem like very good options.”
Oh, there was one other thing that Arthur said a teacher told him.
She said that “young men in Detroit are in great demand with the ladies. So more money. Longer lives. No jail time. And more young ladies. That’s not such a hard choice.”
New Urban Learning will raise money from donors to pay for the scholarships.
College-prep schools designed for disadvantaged students are learning that they have to help graduates navigate the challenges of college — including paying for it — to enable them to earn a degree. The charter school in my book, Our School, offers privately funded scholarships to students, as well as advice and counseling.