The CollegeBound Foundation, an independent endowment fund used to encourage city high school students to go to college, has reached the halfway point in its $25 million fund-raising drive.
The fund-raising effort, which is aimed at local corporations and foundations, began last year, and so far $12.8 million has been raised, according to J. Thomas Hooper, CollegeBound's director of marketing and development.
While the recession has hampered fund raising, the effort is still considered a success, said Joyce A. Kroeller, CollegeBound's executive director.
"We're hoping for support from the medium and small businesses," Ms. Kroeller said. "We hope to reach our goal by the end of the decade."
The Greater Baltimore Committee, Baltimoreans United In Leadership Development and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke created CollegeBound in 1988. The foundation provides money, information and counseling for high school students seeking college educations.
Since its inception, CollegeBound has provided financial support for about 1,600 students. Besides helping students pay fees for Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT) and college applications, CollegeBound provides "last-dollar" grants that cover the shortfall created when students' family contributions and their financial aid packages total less than the cost of attending college, Ms. Kroeller said.
Last year, for example, CollegeBound awarded $72,000 in last-dollar grants to 59 college freshmen and more than $100,000 was awarded to 120 college sophomores and juniors.
CollegeBound also offers an Alice Pinderhughes Scholarship, which is named after the former city school superintendent. The scholarship is awarded to students who aspire to become teachers.
Ms. Kroeller said CollegeBound also guides students through the often complicated college admissions and financial aid process.
"We help them know that going to college is an option and that you don't have to be a rich person to go to college," Ms. Kroeller said.
CollegeBound has a staff that includes four full-time and three part-time advisers. They have helped city students gain admission to near ly every college and university in Maryland, and dozens of other out-of-state schools.
Carol Frigo, the CollegeBound program director, said the foundation has paid the SAT fees for more than 1,000 students and paid financial aid application fees for more than 500 students. All city high school students are eligible for help from CollegeBound.
CollegeBound works closely with school guidance counselors and students. "The [guidance] counselors are overwhelmed. There are about 200 students per counselor," Ms. Frigo said.
Last year, CollegeBound helped Kandra Baltimore, a graduate of Southwestern High School, gain admission to the College of Notre Dame of Maryland in North Baltimore. Miss Baltimore, a freshman this year, plans to major in biology and eventually become a pediatrician.
"They [CollegeBound] helped me with filling out forms and they kept reminding me when to turn them in," Miss Baltimore, said, adding: "They gave me just about all of the supplies I need -- including a book bag."
The CollegeBound adviser at Southwestern High worked with Miss Baltimore throughout her senior year to help complete the college admissions process.
In addition, CollegeBound paid her SAT fees and helped her apply to several state colleges free of charge.
Hung Vu, 19, a native of Vietnam and currently a student at Essex Community College, said he had no idea of his future plans during much of his senior year at Northern High School.
"I was lost and much confused," Mr. Vu said. "They worked with me and helped me get into school."
Mr. Vu, who came to the United States in 1988, lives with his brother and works at a restaurant to support himself.
He said his income is too low for him to afford tuition costs.
"But CollegeBound worked with me so I could go. Now I want to stay in school as long as I can."