Stamford initiative helps students prep for college

United Way is helping Stamford students get ready for the fall semester with their Bridge to College program.

The group's Stamford Cradle to Career initiative brings together organizations from all over the city to provide educational opportunities to students. Last year, the initiative helped hundreds of Stamford students transition to the next phase in their lives with its Bridge to College program.

Over 900 students are enrolled in the program this year. They will receive personalized text messages reminding them about upcoming deadlines. Some students students will also get help from guidance counselors with issues, like financial aid applications.

Organizers say they're fighting what they call "summer melt," where students declare the intention to go to college but never enroll in the fall.

"For one reason or another, they don't make it to the actual seat in the college,” says Rebecca Wilson. “The summer melt rate is nationally, about 10 to 44 percent of the students typically will melt over the summer, without support. We're trying to make sure our melt rate in Stamford is as low or nonexistent as it can be."

Wilson says first-generation students are especially vulnerable to summer melt.

"If you have no parent or no one in your household who has went through that enrollment process, it makes it that much harder to even understand the process," she says.

Bridge to College reported a 100 percent satisfaction rate last year, but organizers say they don't plan to stop until every student who wants an education can get it.

Cradle to Career is also working with the Ferguson Library on this year's Summer Reading Club.