Early Escalera: Pasos Adelante

Latinx youth are one of the fastest-growing populations in the United States, accounting for one-in-four public-school students, and one-in-five college students. In the last two decades, Latinx students have made impressive strides, including graduating high school and enrolling in college at record rates. Despite these gains, Latinx college completion rates still lag.

Only one-in-five Latinx students graduate from a two-year college, and only one-in-two graduate from a four-year institution. Closing the educational attainment gap among Latinx students will be critical as the workforce evolves and the labor market becomes increasingly competitive.

Early Escalera: Pasos Adelante is one way in which UnidosUS, in partnership with its Affiliate Network, is helping to close the educational attainment gap and ensure Latinx youth are college and career ready.

Helping Latinx youth thrive

UnidosUS’s Early EscaleraPasos Adelante college and career readiness program for 9th and 10th grade students supports Latinx students to become college and career ready, civically engaged, financially capable, and critically conscious individuals.  

Since Early Escalera launched its inaugural cohort in 2015 it has developed into a two-year, cohort-based model that places emphasis on the importance of academics in 9th grade and self-development and exploration in 10th grade. The program will launch an updated program model in 2020 with the generous support of State Farm and UPS.   

To date, Early Escalera has served over 1,000 early high school students across seven states. Early Escalera primarily serves first-generation, Latinx, low-income, and English Learner (EL) students who have historically lacked access to quality K-12 education and who face barriers to completing their secondary education.    

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Putting Latinx students on a path to college and career readiness

Early Escalera puts early high school students on a path towards college and career readiness. The culturally competent program focuses on foundational, educational, and exploratory skills while fostering career and leadership development with a lens on the student as an individual, a member of their community, and an inhabitant of the country. 

Early Escalera is delivered through culturally informed, curriculum-based learning sessions combined with experiential learning activities including career panel exploration and shadowing opportunities. Individual case management provides each student with personal advising time with college and career advisors early in their post-secondary planning process. 

Early Escalera works to increase Latinx college enrollment and career-readiness by providing: 

  • Research-based, culturally relevant, and linguistically responsive curricular with a focus on increasing awareness on academics, self-development, and exploration. 
  • Early access to social capital, including access to post-secondary and community partners that help students advance in the academic and professional worlds, and expand the realm of perceived possibilities for their futures. 
  • Early awareness of relevant information that increases access to college such as knowledge of the college-entrance exams, including the ACT and SAT, and familiarity with sources of financial aid such as scholarships, grants, loans, among others.

Learn more about Early Escalera: Pasos Adelante

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Eligibility and how to apply

Grant requests to implement the Early Escalera program are open to UnidosUS Affiliates. Affiliate organizations interested in applying must be in good standing and currently serve or plan to serve Latinx youth.

The UnidosUS Early Escalera Team will begin seeking Letters of Intent from eligible Affiliates interested in implementing the program in February 2021.

Current application opportunities: CLOSED

For more information about Early Escalera, contact UnidosUS Education Program Manager Ulysses Urquizo at uurquizo@unidosus.org.

Ulysses Urquizo

Application Status: CLOSED

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