College Track at 25

Inspiring a Movement to Democratize Potential

A Letter from Our Co-Founder and CEO

“As we celebrate the 25th anniversary of College Track in 2023, we have been reflecting on the journey of this organization, from our first cohort of 25 ninth graders in East Palo Alto, to our nearly 5,000 alumni, high school, and college scholars around the country today. Twenty-five years since our inception, College Track’s mission—equipping students confronting systemic barriers to earn a bachelor’s degree in pursuit of a life of opportunity, choice, and power—remains as urgent and vital as ever. “

Laurene Powell Jobs
Co-Founder & Chair of Board of Directors

Shirley M. Collado, Ph.D.
College Track President & CEO

Scholar Voices


Lauene Powell Jobs at Penn commencement

“At some point in all of our lives, we must ask ourselves what happens when you confront an unacceptable reality. Do you act, or do you look away? I chose the former.”

Laurene Powell Jobs
College Track Co-Founder, 2021 Commencement speech for University of Pennsylvania

Ringing in a New Chapter

College Track has a longstanding tradition of having seniors ring a bell and announce where they’ve been accepted, as all the other s

cholars and staff cheer them on. Started in College Track’s inaugural center in East Palo Alto (EPA) around 2002, the tradition began with a cowbell that students would ring while sitting on a chair that staff called “the throne.” Bernadette Butler, College Track’s former National Director of Individual Philanthropy who was EPA’s Academic Affairs Director at the time, says: ‘We really just wanted to make it clear to all the scholars what a special moment this was—the end of one stage of their journey and the beginning of a new and exciting one.’” 

Senior Earns 43 College Acceptances

“Deciding which college to attend is an important decision in the lives of our scholars, which involve various factors such as family expectations, financial aid packages, location, and more. For College Track New Orleans scholar Paris, the decision-making process became all the more complicated when 43 college acceptances flooded her inbox—and counting. What’s even more incredible is that her institutional financial aid and scholarship offers exceeded $2 million, with the most generous offer coming from Jacksonville State University at $128,000 for all four years… Paris began applying to colleges in August after polishing her personal statement during College Track’s weeklong College Prep Institute in June… After submitting 160 applications and carefully considering her options, Paris has committed to attending her dream school…” Find out what college Paris is attending this fall. 

In honor of College Track’s 25th year, we’re asking scholars, alumni, staff, families, partners, and other members of our movement to democratize potential to share what College Track has meant to them, the value of a bachelor’s degree, and more.

College Track’s 2021-2022 Annual Report: 25th Anniversary Issue


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