Aspire Public Schools

From their first day of kindergarten, all Aspire Public School students know one thing: they are going to college. Aspire’s “College for Certain” philosophy is woven into every aspect of students’ school day. Morning assembly starts each day with college cheers. All classrooms are college-themed and Fridays are college tee shirt days. Students take regular field trips to universities; and most importantly, day in and day out, they receive a high-quality education designed to prepare them for success in college.

And because all Aspire schools are concentrated in high-poverty urban neighborhoods, Aspire is changing the odds for low-income students. In 2010 and 2011, 100% of Aspire seniors were accepted into 4-year colleges. Nearly all of these students are the first in their families to go to college.

Aspire has achieved these remarkable results on an unprecedented scale. Over their 12-year history, they have opened 34 schools across California, and currently serve more than 12,000 students. When compared to large school districts that serve two-thirds or more low-income students, Aspire is the top performing district in the state. Even when compared to districts serving high-income communities, Aspire, with 75% of their students qualifying for free and reduced lunch, still ranks in the top 5% of school systems.

“Moving my children to Aspire is the best thing I’ve done in my life,” said parent Maria Franquez. But Aspire is doing more than changing the odds for families; they are also changing communities.

Their success in Huntington Park was so respected that in 2010, neighboring South Gate City council members invited Aspire into their community. Aspire worked with community leaders to bring two Aspire schools to South Gate, so that students there would also have access to Aspire’s College for Certain school model and rigorous academics.