Our Impact

Young adults from lower socioeconomic backgrounds face an uphill battle in obtaining the necessary education to achieve financial wellbeing and stability later in life. We believe this is a serious problem. This difficulty is rooted in two deficiencies these students face: (1) adequate finances and (2) necessary guidance and support. These issues tend to persist through multiple generations of lower-income families and are a contributing factor to the increasing wage gap and the lack of upward economic mobility in the United States and other countries around the world. We believe that the Hopkin Foundation’s financial contribution and mentoring are one step towards alleviating these issues and provide the opportunity for these young adults to succeed.

Case Study

In 2002, the Department of Education began tracking a large, nationally representative group of high school sophomores, whom it had tested for math and reading skills, and continued monitoring these students’ progress through college. The purpose of the study was to observe the contrasting postsecondary education experiences of high school students from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Ten years after the study was initiated, the results indicate a number of troubling conclusions.

The Advantage of Wealth in College

At every level of academic ability, the low-income students were less likely to finish college than their wealthier peers. Even more astonishing is that exceptionally smart poor students, whose math scores ranked them among the top quartile of the study’s participants, have the same chance of graduating with a bachelor’s degree (41%) as a scholastically mediocre wealthy student.

B.A. Completion Rate in Three Socio-Economic Groups, Ranked in Four Groups of Math Test Scores.

The Path for High-Achieving Lower-Income Students

Taking a step beyond graduation rates and observing what the high-achieving, lower-income students end up doing after high school sheds even more light on the subject. Although 87.4% of these students choose to attend college, most either do not finish college or settle for less than a 4-year degree. Some students try to save money by attending community colleges, which typically don’t have as many resources dedicated to helping students navigate their education and prepare for careers. Some get lost or overwhelmed because they don’t have family members with college experience to provide guidance and support. It is also likely that many high-achieving, lower-income students attend poor high schools where few students aim high and counselors rarely encourage them to do so.

College Attrition Statistics For Lower-Income Students

Despite an increase in the high school graduation rate of lower-income students, the percent of lower-income high school graduates enrolling in college has decreased dramatically. These trends suggest that the students the Hopkin Foundation aims to serve (low-income, high-potential college students) has increased.

Graduation Rates Largely Impacted by the Family’s Experience with Higher Education

It is extremely important for prospective college students to have a strong support system to help guide them through the process of applying to and attending college. At the beginning of the 2002 study, roughly 70 percent of those 10th graders planned to attend college. That ranged from a high of 87 percent among students whose parents had the highest level of income and education to 58 percent of those whose parents were the least educated, poorest and largely unskilled. Among this latter group of students, a mere 14 percent of the total—and only one in four of those who planned to as sophomores—had earned a college degree by 2014.

We understand the challenges that lower-income prospective college students face and the obstacles in their path towards a college degree. Our scholarship program is designed to provide students with a comprehensive set of resources to improve their chance for success. Thanks to our generous donor partners, we can fund the portion of our students’ education that they cannot fund themselves or through other grants and scholarships. We also mentor each student to help them plan their education, understand what it takes to be successful in college, and prepare for their future careers. We believe this combination of financial aid and mentor guidance will help our students receive a valuable college education and open the door to better opportunities in the future.

Our method of active mentorship and progress monitoring has led to an exceptionally low student drop-out rate compared to the broader demographic of our students. We help our students with financial planning so they can fund part of their own education, where possible. We believe this helps students take ownership of their own education. We strive to instill a sense of stewardship and responsibility in our students.

We at the Hopkin Foundation are very grateful for the generous donations of our donor partners and sponsors and set a high standard of stewardship for ourselves. Our staff consists of volunteers and we are very careful and selective in our administrative expenses. Only 3.1% of donated funds are used on administrative tasks which include periodic legal and tax expenses, web design and hosting, and minimal travel.

Because of both the success of our students and our frugal spending on administrative expenses, we are proud to say that nearly 95% of our funds are spent on tuition and other education expenses for our students.