College-Ready, College-Bound

The Higher Education Readiness Opportunity (HERO) builds college awareness in 9th and 10th grade students at Foss, Wilson and Mt. Tahoma High School. We personally and academically support students to overcome barriers to college readiness while exposing them to career and college opportunities.

We help 9th grade scholars understand the importance of grades once you’re in high school and practical things they can do to keep them up. Our 10th grade program includes test preparation and a more-pronounced emphasis on college itself. We help students identify immediate and long-term steps they can take to prepare for their future.

HERO scholars complete three college exploration activities and three career exploration activities each year. Part of the magic is the direct mentorship that is provided. Students have told us that it makes a huge difference having a day-to-day mentor in school. Young women sign up for these types of support programs at a higher rate than young men so it’s especially valuable to have male role models to encourage male participation.

Students in our pipeline have a 77-percent rate of enrolling to college directly from high school. This can be compared to data from ERDC, where Tacoma’s class of 2016 had a college enrollment rate of 58 percent for all students and 54 percentfor low-income students.

HERO scholars are able to say, “I’m a part of something.” They see other students go on to be Achievers and be admitted to college because of what they started in 9th and 10th grade. They’re part of a community of students from similar backgrounds aspiring to go to college.

Our students are impacted by poverty and seldom have college in their families’ experience, so these important milestones wouldn’t otherwise be part of their high school years.

This article was featured in the 2019 Community Impact Report. 

HERO Advisor Phanat Ny serves students at Mount Tahoma, Foss and Wilson High Schools.
HERO Advisor Michael Liptrap serves students at Mount Tahoma, Foss and Wilson High Schools.
HERO Advisor Levon Williams serves students at Mount Tahoma, Foss and Wilson High Schools.








Not pictured is Liesl Santkuyl, Program Manager at the College Success Foundation which hosts the Higher Education Readiness Opportunity (HERO).