The Issue

A college degree is the number one pathway out of generational poverty.

“Although there have been improvements in terms of college access, equality in the attainment of four-year college degrees remains elusive for low-income first generation students.  High income youth are 6 times more likely to earn a four year degree than are low-income students, and the gap between them has nearly doubled in the last 35 years.*”

Dropping Out of College, and Paying the Price

New York Times, June 25 excerpt:

“Democratizing higher education is an urgent challenge. A study published Wednesday by the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution in Washington underscores how inequities in education are hampering social and economic mobility, contributing to entrenched income inequality. The study points out that half of Americans in the top fourth of the income distribution have a college degree. Among the poorest fourth of Americans, fewer than one in 10 graduated from college.”  (full article)

“This graduation-rate gap may have important implications for social mobility and inequality. Given the importance of a college degree in today’s labor market, rising disparities in college completion portend rising disparities in outcomes in the future.” (Hamilton Project)

Every year, 200,000 low-income, college-capable high school students graduate and do not pursue a college education. At current college graduate production rates, there will be a shortage of 16 million college-educated adults in the American workforce by 2025.

East Bay College Fund is determined to help bridge this gap.

Numerous studies have shown that college graduates typically earn over 60% more income, a lifetime earning potential of $1.0 million more than high school graduates. In addition to making a change in generational poverty, this investment in our youth helps create a stronger talent pool that attracts businesses and investors to the area, an increased tax base, and more buying power in the local community.  Further costs associated with programs addressing poverty, crime, unemployment and health are lowered.


Lack of awareness of financial aid options and scholarships reinforces the problem of affordability; most low-income students come from families/communities where no one in their community attended college. 50-75% of low-income students do not apply for aid or loans and/or do not attend financial aid information sessions. For those students who do manage to enroll, excessive workload and unmanageable debt levels often lead to drop-out and long-term financial risk. Total work and loan burden for low-income families is estimated at over $8,000 per year for public 4-year colleges, totaling nearly one-third of family income.

30% of Oakland families earn less than $25,000 a year. Those in low-income Oakland neighborhoods suffer from high crime and unemployment rates and the greatest number of community “stressors” in the city, including child abuse, violent crime, poverty, chronic truancy, an incarcerated family member, and suspensions for violence at school. In some areas that we serve, 71% of the families live below the poverty line. African American males have typically entered prison at rates higher than college.

East Bay College Fund, through our comprehensive programs, aims to be a vital leader changing the demographic of who earns a college degree.  Building on our successes—guiding Oakland students through four-year college, reaching our impact goals in college access and utilizing our college graduates to give back to the community, we are paving a clear pathway from high school through college and out of generational poverty.  See the results of our proven model.



* Moving Beyond Access: College Success for Low-Income, First-Generation Students (2008).  Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education

Graph courtesy of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. A report titled “The College Payoff: Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings” was released in 2011 by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.