Baker College Prep is rolling out a new college fund for EVERY student from the Class of 2026 and beyond that comes through their doors. No special application, no essay, no GPA requirements.
The way the new Bobcat Promise Scholarship works is simple: For every year a student persists at Baker, they get $500 added to their college fund. If they spend all four years at Baker, they’ll have a total of $2,000 available to help them pay for higher education right off the bat.
Baker’s principal, Mary Arrigo, says she is excited about this opportunity and what it will do for the Baker community.
“I hope one of the biggest impacts of it is that students start to see themselves as college-bound before they even start at Baker,” Arrigo said, “Because if they know – all right, everything I do here, I’m building up to that – I think that helps shape their identity and their investment in college.”
Incoming freshmen to Baker this year had a chance to take photos with their families at Bobcat Commitment Day.
The Bobcat Promise Scholarship started last year, and Arrigo hopes it will continue to be a main part of Baker’s college support for years to come.
“I really want to see it take off,” Arrigo said, “The students and families that we serve – finances are a barrier to access. We know that. And, if we’re focusing on eliminating barriers to help students access college and graduate from college, not just get in there, then, I think this has got to be a key part of our strategy.”
HOW THE BAKER PROMISE SCHOLARSHIP STARTED
The Bobcat Promise Scholarship comes from years of working to help students overcome the financial barrier of college. It is a natural expansion of previous scholarship programs Baker offered with the help of one of their founding donors and Noble Schools’ board member – Nancy Mills.
Scholarship programs at Baker have expanded over the years, adjusting to the needs of students and families. It started with the Triumph Awards in 2016. These awards were college grants of around $500 that were given to students who were nominated by staff and then completed an essay and interview. The hope for these awards was to help motivate students to excel in high school and get to college. By the time Baker had their first graduating class in 2017, the leadership team at Baker was ready to do more. This led to the creation of the Bobcat Legacy Scholarship.
The Legacy Scholarship started in 2018 and was made for Baker alumni to help them continue to make their way through college. There were minimum attendance and GPA requirements for all applicants, as well as a requirement for the recipients to come back to talk to Baker students about their college experiences. In 2020, Baker opened the scholarship up to graduating seniors as well.
The Legacy Scholarship and Triumph Awards will still continue, Arrigo said, even with the new scholarship program. They have also opened up the Legacy Scholarship to be renewed every year a recipient is in college – for up to $5000.
BAKER SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS THRIVE IN COLLEGE
Baker has already seen these scholarships improve college persistence for their alumni. From 2017 (the year after the Triumph Awards started) to 2021, Baker College Prep saw their 4-year college persistence rate (at the 5th semester) for their graduating classes increase from 49% to 71%. While it is still too early to assess 6-year college graduation rates, persistence at the 5th semester is a strong indicator of college completion.
In particular, Baker saw students who received these scholarships outperform their peers in college outcomes. Both Bobcat Legacy Scholars and Triumph Award receipients persisted to their 5th semester of college and graduated with bachelor’s degrees at higher rates than their peers.
Past the numbers, though, they’ve seen the impact of these scholarships through the stories of their alumni as well. Trinity, a 2021 Baker graduate and Bobcat Legacy Scholar, said the Legacy Scholarship was the final push she needed.
“It felt kind of like they were giving me the financial push that I needed because I was always kind of worried about college financially. Getting that financial support from my high school felt really good,” Trinity said.
“It helped me a lot so far since I’ve been in college,” said Unika, another 2021 graduate and Bobcat Legacy Scholar. Her mom added, “We had applied to other scholarship places, and they didn’t follow through, so just to be accepted to at least one to assist and help with what she needed was nice. Just to get any type of assistance was a great help.”
Both Trinity and Unika are entering their junior year of college. Trinity studies graphic design at Columbia College, and Unika studies psychology at Grand Valley State University in Michigan.
Arrigo is excited to see how the Bobcat Promise Scholarship will continue to help their students break barriers in the same way their other scholarship programs have.
“I think it’s a beautiful model, and I think it is unique… I want to be able to see the impact it has,” Arrigo said.