At Genesys Works, we see a professional internship and guidance through the college admissions process as key to our students’ future success. According to a 2008 Pell Institute report, due to efforts made by organizations like ours, the number of low-income youth starting college immediately upon high school graduation increased by more than 60% between 1970 and 2005; here at Genesys Works, 97% of our Young Professionals enroll in college.
However, we also know that these are only the first steps. That same Pell Institute Report notes that high-income youth are still six times more likely than low-income youth to earn a four-year degree. Although the number of economically disadvantaged students beginning a postsecondary degree has increased, too few are successfully earning that degree, leaving them well behind their peers in educational attainment while burdened by significant loan debts.
Because Genesys Works Young Professionals come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds and many are the first in their families to go to college, the question of what it takes for low-income, first-generation college students to succeed in college is at the forefront of our discussions about the success of students who enter our program.
To begin to answer this question, we recently partnered with an undergraduate Carlson School of Management class at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities, where four students from the "Issues in Non-Profit Management: The Corporation’s Role in Affecting Social Enterprise" class developed a project to help Genesys Works understand the obstacles low-income, first-generation college students face while striving to earn a postsecondary degree.
The Carlson students conducted an extensive literature review, followed by focus groups with both enrolled and withdrawn students. The Carlson group collected the experiences and stories of Genesys Works alumni who are now enrolled in college. They also reached out to area colleges to find programs and support services of which Genesys Works alumni could take advantage.
In the coming months, Genesys Works is excited to use the knowledge collected by the Carlson students to help ensure the postsecondary success of our alumni as they pursue – and attain – postsecondary degrees. The hard work and dedication of the Carlson students will have a lasting impact on the way we support our Young Professionals during their college years. We are truly grateful for their efforts.
If you have an idea for a service project, or if you are interested in contributing your professional services to Genesys Works, please contact program manager Blenda Chiu.