In the Summer of 2017, the East Side Education Foundation joined the Spartan East Side Promise, a partnership with the East Side Alliance, San José State University, and the Silicon Valley Education Foundation that guarantees SJSU enrollment for East Side graduates meeting California State University requirements and supports students on their path to a college degree with orientations, counseling, mentoring, and scholarship opportunities.

The Need

Economists are in general agreement that California’s burgeoning economy requires a minimum of 40% of high school graduates to earn a bachelor’s degree or higher. While significant progress has been made, research shows that fewer than 10% of Latino or African American ninth-graders earn bachelor’s degrees within six years of high school graduation.

Latinos and African Americans make up nearly 60% of the students in the East Side Union High School District. At its 2016 Education Summit, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group presented this startling information: If Hispanic and African American student performance grew to be comparable to white performance and remained there over the next 80 years, the impact would be a staggering $50 trillion to our economy – more than three times the current GDP. This represents income that we forego by not ensuring equity for all in our schools.

Furthermore, many East Side graduates are the first in their families to go to college and receive minimal support from home. Even when our students decide to pursue a higher education, the process of applying, registering, and completing a degree program presents entirely new challenges. For example, some students do not realize that their final transcripts must be forwarded to colleges to show they completed all of the courses required for admission. One student recently reported missing an orientation because they didn’t know how to get to the campus.

What steps can be taken to ensure that students reach their full potential and graduate from college? How can we help them cross the finish line to achieve more fruitful careers, have more opportunities in life, and ultimately contribute more to our future? These are questions the Foundation has been asking since our inception, and we believe we’ve found at least some of the answers.

The Program

With the Spartan East Side Promise, the Foundation has created a model that is unique among school systems in California – and possibly the nation. Combining best practice models from three different school systems (Long Beach, San Francisco, and Oakland Unified), an integrated program provides a pathway to college, a savings program, and scholarships.

Overall, the Spartan East Side Promise has helped to increase SJSU enrollment of East Side grads by 10%. More importantly, 83% of SESP students have returned for their sophomore years, compared to 79% for the entire student body, and 98% of program participants report finding it helpful or very helpful.

We look forward to sharing more stories and impacts as we continue to build out the program and graduate our first cohort of participants from San José State!

Want to learn more? Watch this video of a recent Zoom presentation:

The Spartan East Side Promise is made possible through the generous support of our partners:

House Family Foundation