When East Palo Alto's only high school closed in 1976, students were bussed to high schools in neighboring, more affluent towns. Through the placement process, these students were assigned to non-college track classes. The results were dramatic: 65 percent of students from East Palo Alto dropped out of high school. Of the 35 percent who did graduate, less than 10 percent enrolled in four-year colleges
Stanford graduate Chris Bischof was convinced there was another way. As an undergraduate, Chris had started an after-school program for East Palo Alto elementary students that linked participation in basketball with daily tutoring. But Shoot for the Stars, as the program was called, could only take these students so far.
In 1996, together with his Stanford Teachers Education Program classmate and fellow teacher Helen Kim, he welcomed eight ninth graders to Eastside College Preparatory School. They didn’t have a campus or even a permanent meeting space, so they met first at a picnic table in a park, and soon moved to a room at Plugged In, a computer learning center, then camped out at a local nonprofit, Families in Transition.
A generous donor offered a 1.6-acre lot at Pulgas Avenue and Myrtle Street, and soon the school had grown to 20 ninth and tenth grade students.
Our approach, requiring extraordinary dedication from both students and faculty, is geared toward the admission and success of every Eastside graduate in a four-year college or university. To date, every Eastside graduate has gone on to a four-year college, including Stanford University, Santa Clara University, Pomona College, Princeton University, U.C. Berkeley, Columbia University, U.C.L.A, Occidental College, Emory University, Yale University and M.I.T.
Seventy eight percent of our alumni are either in a four-year college or have graduated, in comparison with a sobering nationwide statistic indicating just 11% of first generation college students graduates from college.