DC program provides support to high school grads throughout their college journey

DCPS Persists started in 2020 and is modeled after smaller programs elsewhere around the country that aim to help graduating students who go on to college make it long enough to graduate and get their degrees.

Hundreds of students were dropping in at Bancroft Elementary in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood Wednesday to get free swag, some lunch and treats and other items at the first DCPS Persists send-off.

A program that’s been helping high school graduates of D.C. public schools since 2020 navigate the college application process, as well as the college experience, finally got to “send off” its students in person.

(1/3)

A program that’s been helping high school graduates of D.C. public schools navigate the college application process since 2020, as well as the college experience, finally got to “send off” its students in person.

Hundreds of students were dropping in at Bancroft Elementary in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood Wednesday to get free swag, some lunch, treats and other items at the first DCPS Persists send-off.

DCPS Persists started in 2020 and is modeled after smaller programs that aim to help graduating students moving onto college make it to another graduation day.



Currently, only about 36% of DCPS students who go to college end up graduating.

“We are the first urban school district in the nation to have an alumni retention program that supports students during their time that they are in college, all the way until graduation,” said DCPS Persists Director Karime Naime. “We support them by providing academic, financial, emotional and social support.”

Some 750 graduating seniors are part of the program this year. They’ll meet once a month, either in person or virtually, with representatives from DCPS Persists.

Naime said the feedback she had gotten from other students involved in past years made clear “how helpful it was to have someone in their corner, championing them, and letting them know that it was OK to face difficulties.”

For many of the students, it would be difficult to find anyone else who could relate to what they’re going through.

“Many of our students are first-generation students,” who are the first in their families to go to college, Naime said. “They often times may not know how to have those conversations back home or may not have someone who they can have conversations around what college is like.”

That’s what makes the program another support for students who might otherwise be away from home.

“Persist is like a buddy that you need,” said Duke Ellington School for the Arts graduate Khamal Robinson, of Northeast, who is headed to Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. “Everybody needs somebody that can help them along the way.”

That’s what DC Persists did for another D.C. student.

“They helped me a lot with the scholarship process, the application process, the stuff I need to understand about my new stage in college,” said Darlin Rivera, a Brightwood resident who graduated from Jackson-Reed High School. She’s the first in her family to go to college.

She said DCPS Persists helped her weave her way through all the paperwork required just to get into school.

“It was kind of overwhelming because I had no idea about some of the stuff they were asking for, and it was kind of difficult for me to understand it. And the fact that nobody would explain it to me, I would be really stressed sometimes,” Rivera said.

John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow WTOP on Twitter and Instagram to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2022 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up