Allyson Felix (Courtesy photo)

College Track, a national nonprofit organization that equips students confronting systemic barriers to earn a bachelor’s degree in pursuit of a life of opportunity, choice, and power, announced the opening of its third center in Los Angeles on January 12.

Located in the city’s historic Crenshaw District, College Track Crenshaw welcomed its first cohort of 60 students from Dorsey, L.A. Promise Charter and Crenshaw High Schools this Fall, setting the stage for students to thrive in careers where people of color have been historically underrepresented.

Currently in the Crenshaw District, less than half of residents older than 25 have a high school diploma and only 24% of those residents go on to earn bachelor’s degrees, which is far below both the national and Los Angeles county averages. Yet, 40% of jobs in California will require at least a bachelor’s degree by 2030, based on recent studies.

College Track’s expansion from Boyle Heights and Watts to Crenshaw was made possible by a generous seed investment from the Len Hill Charitable Trust. This new partnership inspired additional support from the College Track Los Angeles Local Advisory Board, including the newest member, Allyson Felix.

A Crenshaw native and an alumna of the University of Southern California, Felix is the most decorated American track and field Olympian in history and a passionate advocate for educational justice.

“At College Track, we know a Bachelor’s degree remains the best predictor of professional mobility, civic engagement, lifelong wellness, and self-agency,” said John Lee, College Track’s executive director for the Los Angeles region.

“And yet, today, it is out of reach for far too many young people. By bringing our program to the Crenshaw District, we will see more students from this historic community realize their dreams of college degrees and social mobility.”

“There is no greater accelerator of opportunity than education,” said Allyson Felix. “Particularly for students who will be the first in their families to graduate from college, a degree opens up a life of choice, power, and self-agency. I am thrilled to be part of expanding College Track’s work to democratize potential in my home community of Crenshaw.”

College Track first expanded to Los Angeles in 2012, partnering with to open its doors in the East Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights. Three years later, they opened a second center on the campus of Jordan High School in Watts.

Of the 800 students College Track has served in Los Angeles, 98% matriculated to a two or four-year college, 100% identify as students of color, and 96% will be the first in their families to graduate from college. College Track students nationwide graduate from college at a rate that is double the national average for first-generation students from low-income communities.

The success of College Track Los Angeles students is also made possible by partnerships with leading universities in the region, including the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

A valued College Track partner since 2014, UCLA provides college application guidance to College Track’s high school students, as well as on-campus academic advising, peer mentorship, and research opportunities to College Track’s UCLA students through its Academic Advancement Program.

“UCLA, through its Academic Advancement Program (AAP), has a long and rich history of working with College Track students,” said Dr. Charles Alexander, associate vice provost for Student Diversity and director of UCLA’s Academic Advancement Program.

“As the nation’s largest student academic enrichment program, AAP provides College Track students academic support services to succeed academically, and guidance to prepare them for graduate or professional school and the world of work.”

“Advancing educational opportunity and equity is at the core of USC’s mission,” said Samuel Garrison, senior vice president of USC University Relations. “The University continues to deepen partnerships that expand higher education access for families in South Los Angeles and the Eastside.

USC offers over 100 community-serving educational access programs, including the landmark Neighborhood Academic Initiative, which supports thousands of local students annually. College Track is an important partner in expanding efforts to ensure that every child can achieve a college education.”

The College Track Crenshaw center, located at 3626 11th Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90018, will grow to serve 250 students by Spring 2024. Founding community partners include B.A.R.E. Truth Inc., EmpowHer Institute, Glow Girls, L.A. Audubon Society and The Cooking Project.