Harley Frankel (MBA 1966) is dedicated to bringing change to the field of education. During a long career in education policy at the federal level, he led the National Head Start program; helped to develop the forerunner of the Pell Grant financial aid program; was senior executive for the Children’s Defense Fund; and helped to select the first secretary of education while a senior White House aide in the Carter Administration. Now semi-retired, Frankel is executive director of College Match, a nonprofit he founded in Los Angeles that assists talented students from low-income families navigate the college admissions process, including test prep, college visits, and working with admissions offices.
In this interview, Frankel talks about the origins of the idea and what College Match has been able to accomplish.
“My son graduated from a very good private school in Los Angeles called Harvard-Westlake. I started thinking about all the low-income kids and inner-city kids in Los Angeles whose parents who couldn’t help them go to private school, take them on trips around the country, give them SAT prep, and help with their essays. I decided to form an organization that would give low-income kids the same advantages that my son had.
“College Match is a nonprofit organization that helps low-income kids get into the best colleges of the country the same way upper-class kids have been doing for decades.
“We pick these kids at the end of their sophomore year, and we work them very, very hard. We pick really bright kids, but kids who haven’t had as many advantages as other kids have had. We take them all over the country to visit colleges; and we give them SAT prep for three hours every Saturday morning for a year, raising their average SATs by 350 points. This year, 74 percent of our kids were admitted into the top 25 colleges, 98 percent in the top 50 colleges. And 94 percent of our students graduate from college, which is a very high percentage given the graduation rate for inner-city kids.
“The students themselves come back all the time to talk to our other students and motivate them, and to thank us for helping to change their lives. To be honest, we’ve been doing this now for 13 years, and I suspect we’ve changed about a thousand lives.”
(Published November 2016)
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