ST. LOUIS — As she watched her son apply for college, Lisa Zarin began to wonder about other teens who weren't so fortunate.
So Zarin, of St. Louis, created College Bound, a nonprofit that helps promising high school students who lack the resources they need to attend and succeed in college.
The program that began in 2006 is so successful that a Washington-based think tank recently chose it as one of just 10 pre-college outreach programs in the U.S. whose practices can serve as a model for others, The Suburban Journals of Greater St. Louis reported.
Zarin will be honored on May 17 as a Woman of Achievement for her work with College Bound and her efforts with other St. Louis-area organizations.
Zarin's son was a junior at the private John Burroughs School when he began applying for college. She recognized that he had the benefit of a "network of privilege" and advice about schools he could attend and how to apply to them. She wanted every child to have the same opportunities.
College Bound provides tutoring, test preparation, field trips to cultural events, social service referrals and workshops that teach life skills like financial literacy and conflict resolution.
"The kids we serve often have parents who are incarcerated or absent or who work multiple jobs, and the kids are left to fend for themselves," said Zarin, who serves as chief executive officer for College Bound.
Results have been immediate.
Seventy-five percent of students who joined College Bound are on track to graduate by their mid-20s — the same rate as high-income students the same age.
In addition to College Bound, Zarin is a founding board member of Meds & Food for Kids, a nonprofit group that addresses malnourishment in Haiti. She also serves as a patient advocate for people with endometrial cancer. She is a two-time survivor of the disease.