The new year is bringing some changes to a Syracuse organization that helps underprivileged youth get into college and succeed afterward. On Point for College is moving out of its long-time Catholic Charities Home …and into Onondaga Commons, the former Rural Metro building closer to downtown. Executive Director Sam Rowser is seeing quite a bit of growth from its beginnings 16 years ago.
"At that point, we had about 70 students in college, and 140 students in the programs. Today, we've helped well over 6,000 students attend college. We have 2,500 students in college, and about 1,900 graduates.”
Rowser took over the agency from founder Ginny Donahue last year. In addition to the move, he’d like to see the growing agency expand its focus.
"We've done a really good job, we think, in the urban community, of finding young people looking for access to college, working with them in our Success School to help them stay in school, and our career services helping them find employment. One of the areas we have not dove into is the rural areas."
They plan to reach out to rural students in Auburn, Oswego and Cortland areas. On Point fills in a wide range of needs, from rides to and from college to dentist and eyeglasses support, much of it donated or volunteer. A program over the holiday break also helped youth get ahead.
"Either they work a summer job where they get paid at a local organization, or they could get an internship but it would be unpaid in a field of their desire. That just isn't a good choice for a student to have to make."
So Rowser says, On Point got a state grant to fund 35 students with paid internships. Services are meant to help get – and keep – students in college. He reports a 70 percent success rate of freshmen coming back for sophomore year; 80 percent in their Utica program. Retention nationally hovers around 60 percent.