Educational Institutions

Collegiate Directions Incorporated

  • Bethesda, MD
  • www.collegiatedirections.org

Mission Statement

CDI's mission is to identify low-income, first generation-to-college students and help them access and succeed in selective, four year colleges. In the process, we build leaders and scholars through personal and academic mentorship. We also leverage our expertise by providing cost-effective training to public school systems and educational nonprofit organizations.

Main Programs

  1. CDI Scholars
Service Areas

Self-reported

Maryland

CDI works with high school students at seven partner public high schools in eastern Montgomery County, MD and Washington, D.C.

ruling year

2006

Principal Officer since 2012

Self-reported

Dr. Rachel Pfeifer

Keywords

Self-reported

equity in education, public schools, low income, college access, test preparation, college counseling, college admissions, college retention, tutoring, college graduation

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Also Known As

CDI

EIN

20-3675989

 Number

0226256520

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Alliance/Advocacy Organizations (B01)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Secondary/High School (B25)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

Our CDI Scholars Program serves low-income, first generation students who attend underperforming high schools in Montgomery County and Washington, D.C. The number of low-income high school students in Montgomery County increased nearly 43% from 2008 to 2013 alone, and there are approximately 12,000 low-income high school students in Montgomery County and 9,000 low-income students in Washington, D.C. According to recent data from the MCPS Office of Shared Accountability, low-income students in Montgomery County are 30% less likely to attend college and 40% less likely to earn a college degree than their wealthier, similarly qualified peers.

In contrast to these dire statistics, CDI Scholars increase their standardized test scores by an average of 250 points on the SAT and 4 points on the ACT. CDI Scholars also earn renewable grants and scholarships directly from colleges and universities to cover most of the required cost of attendance, averaging more than $30,000 in grants and scholarships per year, per Scholar. Most importantly, 100% of CDI Scholars have earned admission to four-year colleges, 99% have matriculated, and 97% of those attending college will graduate from college within six years.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

CDI Scholars

We recruit high-achieving, low-income students. We develop their academic and leadership potential through our rigorous program, which includes foundational skill building, study skills strategies, problem-solving, leadership training, and personal growth. This serves them and those around them, including their peers, parents, and siblings. Their success inspires a college-bound culture, raising the bar for everyone.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Budget

$1,114,187.00

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    CDI's mission is to help low-income, first generation-to-college students access and succeed in selective, best-fit, four-year colleges. In the process, we build leaders and scholars through individualized coaching and mentoring. We also leverage our expertise by providing cost-effective training to public school systems and educational nonprofit organizations.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    Our CDI Scholars Program provides a comprehensive, six-year curriculum that begins in high school and lasts throughout college, helping low-income students from Montgomery County, MD and Washington D.C. earn admission, enroll, and graduate from four-year colleges and universities. Activities begin during the end of Scholars' sophomore year of high school with parent meetings, team-building activities, and individual counseling sessions. We then work closely with our Scholars throughout the remainder of high school by providing college admission and financial aid counseling, professional SAT/ACT preparation, academic tutoring, personal mentorship, and comprehensive support for Scholars and families. When Scholars are in high school, we pick them up at their high schools once a week and bring them to our office for group tutoring or individual meetings with staff counselors. Once Scholars enroll in college, our counselors continue their relationships by visiting campuses for in-person check-ins and through monthly phone conversations. This "wraparound service model" ensures each Scholar receives everything necessary to persist through and graduate from college, including emotional support, counseling, and emergency assistance.

    CDI also provides over-the-shoulder mentoring and core skills support for college counselors at local high schools. Through these partnerships, CDI staff share our best practices and professional assistance to college counseling staff at underserved high schools. Building on a successful, three-year pilot partnership with E.L. Haynes Charter School, CDI will be expanding this professional development work to increase our impact on more low-income students in the D.C. metropolitan area and Montgomery County, Maryland.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    Our accomplishments stem from a strategic decision to provide comprehensive support to each of our Scholars, thereby ensuring the Scholars' ability to graduate from college and begin meaningful careers. Prior to launching our CDI Scholars Program, CDI surveyed the college access landscape and built relationships with many of the most successful programs across the country. We have adopted many of their best practices and incorporated them into our own, unique program model, which we call our CDI Core Curriculum. This curriculum guides our work with Scholars and their families from the time they join our program until they have successfully graduated from college. This approach has been quite successful to date, and in the past decade 100% of our Scholars have been accepted to college, 98% have attended four-year colleges, and our program has a 97% college graduation rate.

    We have built our successful model through the leadership and vision of our board and staff. CDI was founded by Nina Marks, a leader and educator with over 30 years experience, who recognized that most low-income students do not have a fair opportunity to attend or graduate college.

    CDI is currently directed by Dr. Rachel Pfeifer. Before joining CDI in 2013, Rachel Pfeifer spent two years as an assistant to the Chief Academic Officer in the Baltimore City Public Schools. Rachel graduated with Highest Distinction and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead Scholar. After spending two years with Teach For America as a 4th grade teacher in Indianola, Mississippi, she earned a Master's in Education Policy from Harvard. She then attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, earning a D.Phil. in Education for her research on the factors influencing African Caribbean families' secondary school choices.

    Rachel is supported by Ana Hilton, Director of Programs. Ana joined CDI as a counselor in 2007 from the Dean of Students' office at the College of Wooster. As CDI has grown to serve an increasing number of students in Montgomery County and DC, Ana's responsibilities have grown; she was promoted to Program Director in 2011 and Director of Programs in 2012. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Ana arrived in the United States at the age of five and speaks both English and Spanish fluently.

    Finally, CDI has cultivated a staff of committed and professional college counselors. These staff members have dedicated their careers to supporting students on the pathway to and through college. In addition to their time with CDI, our counselors draw on a range of prior experiences as teachers, college admissions staff members, and through advanced degrees. Additionally, since 80% of CDI's counselors are first-generation college graduates themselves, our mission is very close to their hearts.
  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    Our CDI Scholars Program closely tracks Scholars from the time they join our program as high school juniors until they graduate college, a minimum six-year commitment. One of the most important metrics in our program is time spent with Scholars. During high school, we meet with our Scholars weekly for academic tutoring, test preparation, and individual guidance for college admission and financial aid. This represents approximately 85 hours of individual and 25 hours of group intervention over their junior and senior years in high school. During college, Scholars are individually paired with a staff member who provides academic and financial aid advisement as well as mentoring and emotional support, collectively providing Scholars an average of 40 hours of individual support in college. The intensity and duration of our CDI Scholars Program makes it the most comprehensive program of its kind in Montgomery County.
    We also evaluate Scholars' progress along a series of academic, financial, and personal milestones. Specifically, we track the following data:

    High School and College GPA: We track and maintain records for all Scholars' grades throughout high school and college.

    SAT or ACT Improvement: Our Scholars receive weekly tutoring for an entire year through CDI and we track their exam scores by comparing diagnostic and actual results.

    College Acceptances: We measure the number of colleges to which our Scholars apply and their success in gaining acceptance. To date, our program has helped our Scholars earn admission to more than 225 different college campuses across the country.

    Financial Aid Awards: In addition to assisting our Scholars through all required financial aid applications, we track the amount of grants and scholarships they receive.

    Internships: We provide guidance and support for Scholars throughout high school and college to help them obtain relevant internships during their winter and summer vacations.

    College Progress and Graduation: We stay in close contact with all of our Scholars throughout college and we measure their progress in persisting through each year of college.

    Career or Graduate School Success: We are frequently in touch with Scholars after they graduate college, in particular through our CDI Alumni Association and whenever Scholars need our support applying to graduate school.

    We track all of these data points using comprehensive internal files that utilize software systems such as Naviance and Beyond 12. These programs help our staff monitor and report on Scholars' progress during high school, their success in applying for college admission and financial aid, and their academic and financial aid status throughout college. Additionally, our staff meet weekly to ensure the quality and consistency of our efforts. Lastly, CDI employs a part-time research analyst on staff whose primary role is managing and highlighting meaningful data for program growth and improvement.
  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    Over the past decade CDI has developed and implemented one of the most comprehensive college access and success programs in our community. As a result of our work, we have helped hundreds of low-income students attend and complete college, thereby finding a sustainable pathway out of poverty. CDI has also cultivated partnerships among an array of nonprofit and educational organizations to help disseminate our program methods as widely as possible. As a result of these efforts, our best practices have been incorporated at numerous schools and nonprofits across Montgomery County, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. We have also worked directly and successfully with local high schools to support college guidance efforts for low-income students, further deepening our impact on hundreds of other students in our community.

    Given these successes, CDI is motivated to continue to enhance our reach in the D.C. Metro Area. To achieve our ambition, CDI is seeking to further develop our partnerships with high schools and nonprofit organizations and thereby enhance their services to students. In the coming years we expect to reach many more low-income students through this outreach and help CDI achieve this third pillar of our mission.
Service Areas

Self-reported

Maryland

CDI works with high school students at seven partner public high schools in eastern Montgomery County, MD and Washington, D.C.

Funding Needs

$10,000: Essential day-to-day operations $5,000: One Scholar's complete support for one year $2,500: College testing fees $1,000: Field trips and cultural events $500: Books and travel subsidy.

Affiliations + Memberships

United Way Member Agency

National College Access Network

photos


External Reviews

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

Collegiate Directions Inc
Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30
Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant.

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

Collegiate Directions Incorporated

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
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Principal Officer

Dr. Rachel Pfeifer

BIO

Dr. Rachel Pfeifer spent two years as an assistant to the Chief Academic Officer in the Baltimore City Public Schools. Among other duties, she oversaw strategic planning, managed the budget, and coordinated the work of the academic departments.  Rachel graduated with Highest Distinction and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead Scholar. After spending two years with Teach For America as a 4th grade teacher in Indianola, Mississippi, she earned a Master's in Education Policy from Harvard.  She then attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, earning a D.Phil. in Education for her research on the factors influencing African Caribbean families' secondary school choices.  Her doctoral dissertation focused on the myriad factors (including social class, geography, race/ethnicity, and educational policies)

STATEMENT FROM THE Principal Officer

"CDI began in 2005 with the goal of closing the opportunity gap facing low-income, first generation students in Montgomery County, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. CDI was founded by Nina Marks — an educator with over 30 years experience as a teacher, college counselor and school administrator — who recognized that most low-income students do not have a fair opportunity to attend or graduate college. Since beginning in 2005, 100% of CDI's Scholars have been accepted to college, 98% have attended four-year colleges, and to date our program has a 97% college graduation rate, making CDI the most comprehensive college access program in Montgomery County. We achieve our results by providing a comprehensive, six-year curriculum that begins in high school and lasts throughout college."

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Mr. Stephen A. Weiswasser

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices. Self-reported by organization


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BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?


RESPONSE NOT PROVIDED

BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?