First-Generation College Students At Bed-Stuy All-Girls School Will Be “Showered” with College Essentials
The 50 dynamic young women making up the Class of 2021 persevered through junior and senior years rocked by the devastating, global COVID-19 pandemic to achieve 100% college acceptance. Collectively, BELA’s class of 2021 applied to more than 150 different colleges and universities and received $900,000 in merit aid. More than 75% of the graduating class will be the first in their families to pursue higher education. BELA opened its doors in Bed-Stuy in 2017.
BELA’s College Shower will help students and families offset some of the unexpected, incidental costs that accompany attending college, and reinforce that there is an entire community cheering them on. More than 85% of BELA students qualify for free or reduced lunch (NYC’s indicator for low-income) and 75% of the graduating class are first generation college students.
BELA’s College Success Team, in line with the school’s mission that every student will attend and complete college, works closely with families to navigate the admissions process and ensure a successful college experience. This includes overnight college visits, test preparation, academic advising, career exploration and financial aid counseling. BELA’s weekly college readiness classes beginning in the 9 th grade help students develop the academic and social-emotional skills they need to be equipped for post-secondary education. BELA’s Alumni Team will maintain regular contact with graduates to ensure they receive continuing encouragement and support on their college journeys and remain connected to a supportive community.
“I am humbled and grateful that this group of young women and their families took a chance on BELA. We knew what Black and brown girls deserved and we set about co-creating this place alongside our young people. They are the trailblazers, the innovators,” says Nicia Fullwood, Head of School. “But we’re not done. This is not a four-year journey; it’s an eight-year journey. Our continued commitment is to ensuring our students are prepared to succeed in college. They are prepared academically. They are prepared socially. The College Shower will help prepare them with some essentials they’ll need inside and outside the classroom.”
Companies who generously contributed to BELA’s College Shower include Brandless, Dagne Dover, Beauty Counter, The Blue List and VS PINK.
“To be one of BELA’s first graduating seniors feels inspiring. I am now part of BELA’s legacy and an example to the younger generation.” – Melanie, 12th grader
“After the pandemic, it was about persevering and to keep pushing. Strength was really important. I had to keep going. I knew if I stopped, I had to ask myself, ‘What am I really settling for?’” – Anastasia, 12th grader
BELA’s Class of 2021:
● BELA’s inaugural class – the first in the school’s history!
● Collectively, the class applied to over 150 different colleges and/or universities and completed over 5,000 hours in community service.
● BELA students submitted 672 individual applications! They were accepted to 74 unique schools.
● 100% of students accepted into college.
● 75% of students are first-generation college students.
● Every member of the senior class identifies as a person of color (90% identify as Black).
● This dynamic group of young women persevered beyond the devastating global impact of COVID-19 to fulfill their destiny as BELA’s first graduating class!
● The Class of 2021 will graduate on Friday, June 18, 2021!