After teaching on both ends of the socioeconomic spectrum, Christine Sylvain noticed a troubling disparity: When it came to college preparation outside the classroom, “the contrast was stark,” she says. Higher-income students had tutors and experts helping them apply to college and obtain internships and enrichment opportunities; bright, hard-working students from less privileged backgrounds were starved for guidance.
Moreover, Sylvain soon realized that by offering college counseling and SAT prep for top dollar—thereby helping wealthy students earn scholarships and get accepted to elite schools—she was part of the problem. “I was directly contributing to the increasing wealth gap in our country,” Sylvain explains.
She switched gears and launched Path to College, a three-year leadership and career-development curriculum comprising financial literacy, speed interviewing, civic engagement, application guidance, social and emotional support from dedicated mentors, and more. The nonprofit’s efforts help students from underserved communities secure admission into their dream schools, allowing them to climb the economic mobility ladder and foster a stable, thriving middle class.
“Our work is really trying to mitigate educational inequity, and it’s so often along race lines,” Sylvain says. “It’s all about connecting people across railroad tracks.”