Partnerships Lead to Access

Peak Education CEO Commits to Serving Under-resourced Students.

Partnerships Lead to Access

Carlos Jiménez '04 has dedicated his career to college admission. He's now using his expertise to help the Colorado Springs community as the new chief executive officer for Peak Education, a nonprofit committed to serving under-resourced students in the Pikes Peak region to prepare them for college.

The organization works with students and their families from seventh grade to college completion through curriculum, service, and mentorship. Peak Education partners with many educational organizations - including Colorado College - to realize their goal of a "citywide approach to helping more students get into college and think about their educational opportunities."

Jiménez is charged with expanding these services.

"If you take out Academy District 20 and Cheyenne Mountain School District 12, students who graduate from Colorado Springs public high schools only go to college at about a 38% rate," he says.

Peak Education is determined to change that statistic. They currently serve 300 students, but next year Jiménez anticipates rapid growth for the organization, increasing their staff of professionals to serve 400 students.

"College access work is very personal because I feel like that's what I was given, that has allowed me to access different parts of life, society, to be able to determine my own career path, in a way that my parents weren't able to," says Jiménez.

When he was younger, mentors who recognized Jiménez's academic talent encouraged him to apply to Colorado College. His experiences led to a 15-year career as an admission professional at the Colorado State University - Fort Collins and as director of admission at Colorado College. They also led him to collaborate on an access initiative at CC, which has culminated in the formation of the Stroud Scholars.

Stroud Scholars prepares students for selective college environments by working directly with high promise youth to provide academic preparation, mentorship, and guidance navigating admissions and financial aid processes to CC and beyond. Pikes Peak region students successfully completing the three-year college preparatory program will earn admission to Colorado College and receive a financial aid package that will enable them to attend.

According to Jiménez, the goal of the program is to "provide a longer on-ramp for some students who are local to give them a better shot at getting in and then being successful once they get into college."

Each cohort of Stroud Scholars will be comprised of 25 Colorado Springs students with the hopes that those students will feel prepared to navigate the college application process and understand their menu of educational opportunities. Ideally many of them will establish bonds with the CC community and find their best college match here.

Jiménez hopes that these students will graduate to become leaders in their fields and communities and that their commitment will come full circle. He hopes the scholars one day will say, "I was given something. I'm going to come back and give back to the community and make a difference as well."

Stroud Scholars is one of several college access initiatives that Colorado College has committed to this year including the Colorado Pledge and the new test optional policy. Jiménez says these initiatives remove barriers to increase opportunities for students.

"CC wants to look at you as a person, and also look what you've accomplished academically over time, not just what you did on a Saturday morning in April or October," he says.

With these initiatives and a goal through the college's Building on Originality campaign to raise $100 million for new scholarships and financial aid, Jiménez says that alumni participation in giving will make the most impact as we address equity as an institution to open CC's doors up to even more for students who maybe aren't coming from the top of economic backgrounds.

"I think that CC is poised to do great things," Jiménez says. "The more that CC can think outside of the traditional higher ed box, like it has with the Block Plan and in other ways, the more the college will thrive in the future."

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