High school student smiling.

An early start for college prep in Reno, Nevada

This mentoring and skills-building program gives middle and high school students a better chance to earn a secondary degree

For some students, graduating from high school and attending college can be a huge challenge. The Dean’s Future Scholars (DFS) program at the University of Nevada, Reno has made it a reality for many low-income, first-generation college students in the Reno/Sparks community. By providing one-on-one attention, the program has successfully served more than 1,500 young people since its inception 24 years ago, with nine out of 10 of them being students of color.

For up to six years starting in middle school, students receive mentoring during the school year and attend skills-building classes during the summer. The last step before college is the Youth College Internship, an eight-week summer program that gives students firsthand experience balancing college classes and part-time work. In addition to the paid internships and course work for credit, participants receive leadership training at Grizzly Creek Ranch in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Once in college, participants in this free program have continued access to mentoring and job assistance.

The results have been impressive, with 96% of participants graduating from high school in recent years. More than two-thirds enter college, and since the program’s inception, 86% of those who enter college also graduate — a crucial step toward wider economic opportunities. Funding from Bank of America helps support this transformative, pre-college intensive program.

The support for the DFS program is an example of how, from entrepreneur funding and expanding homeownership to professional skills training and healthcare access, Bank of America continues to partner with innovative leaders to help communities implement solutions to society’s important challenges.


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