Birmingham Merit Scholars

A college education is one of the most certain avenues into the middle class for impoverished American youth. MIT economist David Autor claims that, even in a climate of college debt, "the rising return on postsecondary education" is the single most important factor in determining financial success (MIT News, 2014).

College Admissions Made Possible (CAMP) has been serving the educational community in Alabama for over seven years. CAMP equips students, teachers, administrators, schools, and school systems by empowering them with the tools necessary to see students reach postsecondary goals. CAMP supports this mission by offering affordable and high-quality standardized test preparation, college advising services, and professional development.

In 2014, the Executive Office of the President published Increasing College Opportunity for Low-Income Students: Promising Models and a Call to Action, which identified major barriers to college access and promising interventions. One promising intervention was reducing inequalities in college advising and test preparation. CAMP is a premier provider of such services. No other organization seeks to provide the customized intervention that CAMP seeks to offer all its partners. CAMP’s focus is not just improving test scores, but on improving overall student success.

In conjunction with a partnership between CAMP and the Rotary Club of Birmingham, eighteen high-achieving seniors from Birmingham City Schools have been selected by their counselors to participate in the Birmingham Merit Scholars project, a college access intensive program where students receive personalized intervention for ACT prep, writing, college applications, FAFSA, and scholarships. Facilitators of these services are senior CAMP ACT Teaching Fellows or CAMP employees that are passionate about building relationships with students and ensuring their entry to college. We maintain a maximum facilitator-student ratio of 1:4 so that intervention can be customized according to the unique needs of each student. By the end of the pilot program, Birmingham Merit Scholars will have:

 1) a program completion rate of at least an 80%

2) at least 90% of completing students with improved ACT scores

3) ACT score improvement of at least 3 points by at least 80% of completing students

4) 100% graduation rate

5) at least 3 college applications for at least 90% of completing students

6) college acceptance for at least 80% of completing students