Setting up students for success

Breaking the cycle of poverty by enabling students to stay in school, head for college, or find a pathway to a career are the goals of an effort led by Cal State East Bay.

It's a partnership that involves a dozen community groups, including Hayward Unified School District and Chabot College, to improve the lives of low-income families. 

The program is called Hayward Promise Neighborhood. Tennyson High School is part of this program.

Each week, CSUEB sophomore Kelli Cosby comes to  the school to pay it forward.

The tutoring and mentoring she once received here at Tennyson High, she is now giving back by doing the same for high school students.

Cosby says she was the first person in her family to attend college and that she wants to use her own experience to pave the way for other students to prepare for college.

"They need to have somebody to tell them this is an option. This is something that you can do. It's not impossible," says Cosby.

17-year-old Jeremiah Gode says having a tutor such as Cosby has helped pull up his grades from D's to B's .

"I was never confident in class or anything and never asked for help," says Jeremiah who says it's now different,"I'm asking for help in anything I don't understand at all."

The high school junior says coming from a single parent home, he knew he would need good grades to get a scholarship to help pay for college.

Jeremiah plays football and he credits his coach and mentor Anthony Jackson for being a father figure.

Jackson is also the school's drop out prevent specialist and Tennyson's varsity basketball coach and assistant football coach.

"The importance of school is lost because a lot of times because they don't need training to be reality tv stars or rappers or some of those things that they have such an affinity for now. So we need to remind them and make them fall in love with school again," says Jackson.

Hayward Promise Neighborhood recently received $30 million in federal funding following the first grant it received in 2011.

Supporters say high schools in Hayward have seen a 10 percent increase in graduations since the program was first implemented.

At the same time, the graduation rate for the Cal State East Bay students who participate in this community project is 14 percent higher than those who don't.

"Becoming leaders in their communities as university students, that is meaningful, purposeful education," says Caroly Nelson, a CSUEB Dean who oversees the program.

"It provides you with a better life . it provides you with better opportunities that can connect you with a better job and make your life better," says Cosby who say a mentor with the program first planted the idea of college in her plans for the future.

One goal is to have students who've benefited from the program to return as college students to help a new generation get on track to go to college or find a pathway to a career.

Supporters say the success of the program depends on this ongoing community involvement.