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"A Better Chance" Helps Students of Color Attend Top Private Schools

The scholarship organization A Better Chance, founded in 1963, has provided many students of color with the chance to attend college-prep private schools and public schools across the country. Their mission clearly illustrates the goal of the organization: Our mission is to increase substantially the number of well-educated young people of color who are capable of assuming positions of responsibility and leadership in American society. Since its founding, A Better Chance has grown greatly, starting out with 55 students enrolled at nine schools to now more than 2,000 students enrolled at nearly 350 of the best private schools and public schools, as of the 2015-2016 school year.

Originally, the program involved identifying and selecting talented students of color and providing scholarships for them to attend private day and boarding schools. In the first year, even before President Lyndon B. Johnson announced his War on Poverty, 55 boys, all poor and mostly African-American, took part in an academically rigorous summer program. If they completed the program, the headmasters of 16 private schools agreed to accept them.

In the 1970s, the program began to send students to competitive public high schools in areas such as New Canaan and Westport, Connecticut; and Amherst, Massachusetts. Students lived in a house staffed by program tutors and administrators, and the local community provided support for their house. In addition, many colleges across the country, from Stanford in California to Colgate in New York state, have partnered with A Better Chance to express their interest in promoting diversity.

Today, the program also includes Latino and Asian students, and while many students have significant financial constraints, the program also accepts middle-class students and subsidizes tuition for these students based on need. The current program is focused on increasing diversity at educational institutions.

A Better Chance notes that its scholars are a racially diverse group (figures approximate): 

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