When East Palo Alto's only high school closed in 1976, all students were bused out of their own community to schools in neighboring, more affluent areas. Through the placement process, these students were assigned to non-college track classes. The results were dramatic: 65% of students from East Palo Alto dropped out of high school, and fewer than 4% went on to attend a four-year college or university.
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 them so far. He and Helen Kim, who had been classmates at Stanford, began talking about how they could significantly improve educational opportunities for these students.
In 1996, Chris and Helen welcomed eight ninth graders, some of whom had participated in Shoot for the Stars, to a new school they called 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. The next year, 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.
Interest in attending Eastside began growing quickly, and in 2001 we began construction on a larger campus with science and computer labs, our Center for the Arts, dormitories, and more. Then, in 2008, we expanded even further with a promise to support our students beyond their high school years, launching an alumni program to guide Eastside graduates through college and in their transition to professional careers.
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, over 99% of Eastside graduates have been admitted to four-year colleges, including Stanford University, Santa Clara University, Pomona College, Princeton University, UC Berkeley, Columbia University, UCLA, Occidental College, Emory University, Yale University, and MIT.
To learn more about our students' success in college and the professional world, click here.