Watch CBS News

Local Non-Profit Helps 80% Of Its Students Graduate College

BALTIMORE (WJZ)--Across the country, only 11 percent of low income students who begin college go on to graduate.

Mike Schuh has details on a long running non-profit which see's 80 percent of its students get a degree.

Xiang Chen is the new guy on the 18th floor at the M & T Bank. He's been doing paperwork for three weeks. But he's not an employee he's a junior at Patterson High.

"Building Steps kids are incredible, incredible young adults and they're doing things that no other kids are doing," says Debra Hettleman.

Hettleman's runs Building Steps, a nonprofit which teaches low income students with good grades, how to get into, and then stay in college.

Schuh: "To a college, how attractive are the kids that you're helping?"

"Extraordinarily attractive because our kids are coming with a support system," said Hettleman.

Support because the parents simply don't know how to make college happen.

College? Many never graduated high school.

"My father keep telling me to go to college, he tell me it's important, he never graduated from middle school," said Xiang Chen.

They never graduated middle school, yet now,  his mom and dad own a corner grocery in east Baltimore. But they may not know what to ask their son once he's in college.

But Debra does, "Are your sitting in the front row, have you seen your academic advisor, have you been to the academic achievement center, have you met your advisor, what's your schedule like, how did you do on your exam, we send them a care package, someone at home cares about you?"

Schuh: "What you're doing almost sounds parental."

"I don't want to say that, but yes, it's parental," she says.

None of this would happen without the support of a lot of people in corner offices.

"Were taking kids from unique situations, young adults really, and really pushing them and giving them an opportunity," said Christoper Callaghan, M & T Bank.

The student tells WJZ that after working at M & T Bank all day, he goes home and helps his parents in their corner grocery store near Patterson Park.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.