Dream Project mentors Gilbert Ko, rear, and Olivia Kozyra work their way around a Renton High classroom during a mentoring session. Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times 2012.
A program that pairs student-mentors from the University of Washington with low-income middle and high school students has had a significant impact helping those students get into college, a new consultant report has concluded.
The program is called the Dream Project, and it was started 10 years ago by University of Washington undergraduates. In 2014, the program touched about 2,000 students at 16 high schools, and another 1,000 middle school students at nine schools.
The program recruits UW undergraduates to go into a select group of Seattle-area high schools and help the younger students work on college applications, financial aid and scholarship paperwork. Called a peer-to-peer mentoring program, the project’s aim is to improve college-going rates for low-income and first-generation high school students. And according to a report by RTI International, a consulting firm based in Berkeley, Calif., it’s doing the job.
RTI’s analysis showed that in 2012, nearly 80 percent of Dream Project participants who enrolled in college went to a four-year college or university — better than comparison districts, and an important measure because students who go to four-year schools are more likely to finish their degrees.