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Quick facts

Director/PI: Donntoya Bailey

Collaborators: East High School Educational Partnership Organization

Funding: William and Sheila Konar Foundation, The Wegmans Foundation, and individual donors 

Related Projects: Center for Urban Education Success


Step to College, which launched in summer 2018 under the University of Rochester’s educational partnership with East High School, is an innovative pre-college program that aims to prepare Rochester students for admission to — and to persist in — two-year and four-year colleges.

Step to College offers high school scholars and prospective college applicants an opportunity to experience the expectations and rigor of college through academic, social, recreational and community related experiences. College access, persistence and completion for low-income, minority, and first-generation populations is critical to the economic well-being of students, their families and the Rochester community.

The program hosts an intensive two-week academic boot camp, where students are able to sleep in residence halls and study at the University of Rochester each summer. Students return for three consecutive summers of this boot camp. During the last two summers, they advance to college-level courses in reading, writing and statistics. A unique aspect is the partnership it creates among middle/high school teachers and local college professors. As part of the academic boot camp, University of Rochester college professors co-teach classes with East High teachers.

East students participate in ongoing meetings throughout the school year to ensure academic success. As part of the program, students also partake in nightly workshops and academic lectures to assist them with the college application process, financial aid, college life and positive relationship building with peers, mentors, professors and student organizations.

Goals of the program

  • Provide students with academic rigor and experiences to prepare them for college persistence and completion.
  • Students will be socially-emotionally healthy.
  • Students will successfully transition to a two- to four-year institution of higher learning.
  • Produce students of character who demonstrate traits for long term achievement.
  • Create a “college-going” culture at East High School.