In 1995, while advising high school seniors from East Palo Alto about the college admission process, the co-founders of College Track realized that students who wanted to be the first in their families to attend college received little or no guidance about how to get there.
Their parents didn't know how to guide them, and they didn't get personal attention from their school counselors since each was assigned more than 1,000 students to advise and oversee.
Laurene Powell Jobs and Carlos Watson, the co-founders of College Track, also discovered that most students who were hungry for information and eager to attend college had not taken the classes needed to qualify for admission to a California state university. Recognizing that starting to work with seniors in their senior year was too late, the co-founders spent a year investigating area support programs and nonprofits that worked with teens.
They found many programs for elementary and middle school students, but no comprehensive program supporting high school students. Organizations that served teens provided only limited service, focusing on one area, such as tutoring, or youth leadership, but never taking a comprehensive approach.
So, Powell Jobs and Watson created a program to address the community needs they had observed. That program was College Track, a comprehensive after-school program that focuses on academics, student life, leadership, and getting into college, and works with students beginning as high school freshman and continuing through their college careers and beyond.
College Track began working with 27 freshmen at Carlmont High School in September 1997, and has added more students each year. The organization grew to include all schools in the Sequoia Union High School District in 1999, expanded to Oakland in 2000, and opened a center in San Francisco in 2007. In the summer of 2008, College Track launched a center in New Orleans in partnership with the Urban League, and in Summer 2011 College Track opened a center in Aurora, CO. This year College Track will serve over 1,200 high school and college students through our centers in East Palo Alto, Oakland, San Francisco, New Orleans, and Aurora, CO.