City Squash
Enabling New York City youth to fulfill their academic,
athletic and personal potential.

Happy Holidays from CitySquash

December 2019

Friends of CitySquash,

CitySquash’s goal for each of our team members has always been college graduation. Paul Tough’s most recent book, The Years That Matter Most, underscores just how challenging that undertaking can be, especially for students from low-income families. One study he cites shows that only about a quarter of college students born in the bottom half of the income distribution will earn a bachelor’s degree by the time they are 24, while children born in the top income quartile have a 90% chance of earning one by the same age. Some of the most heartbreaking parts of the book are the anecdotes of students from low-income families who defy the odds and are accepted to elite colleges only to struggle and later drop out. 

After 17 years, 98% of CitySquash’s high school graduates have matriculated to college and 96% of them have either graduated or are on track to graduate within six years. By comparison, the U.S. college matriculation rate for Black and Hispanic students is just 34%, and less than half of them will earn a degree within six years.

One recent CitySquash success is Mariela. After being a standout student in high school, she became the first CitySquasher to be admitted to Bowdoin College. Like many first-generation college students, Mariela found the transition to college extremely difficult. Lonely and overwhelmed, she decided to return to the Bronx. Her future was unclear, but after a period of self-reflection, she mustered the courage to get back on her feet. She sought work to give purpose and structure to her daily life, and she eventually enrolled in classes at Lehman College where she reinvigorated her passion for Africana Studies and Gender & Women’s Studies. And just last week, we received an emoji-filled text from Mariela expressing her excitement and gratitude about the chance to return to Bowdoin in the new year after spending two years away.

While this journey is ultimately a testament to Mariela’s resilience and work ethic, CitySquash makes it difficult for our team members to disappear. We take seriously our pledge to see everyone through to their college graduation, regardless of the path they take and the challenges they encounter. Thank you for your help in allowing us to keep this promise to our 240 team members.

Happy Holidays,

Terence Li
Executive Director

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