Downtown College Prep: Preparing first-generation students for 4-year colleges

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Armando Cervantes, above in white cap, is pictured with Downtown College Prep’s first graduating class in 2004. Cervantes went on to attend San Jose State University and is now pursuing a career in medicine. 

• Mission: Downtown College Prep prepares students who will be the first in their families to attend college and equips them to thrive at four-year universities.

Downtown College Prep runs two charter high schools and two middle schools. The singular goal for all students is that graduates are accepted to and enroll in four-year colleges. The Downtown College Prep community has created a learning environment that helps students and their families chart a course for college beginning in fifth grade.

• 2018 update: In 2018, Downtown College Prep focused on expanding its science, technology, engineering and math program, which will soon include a STEM lab at Alum Rock Middle school. The STEM lab will be the first of its kind in east San Jose.

“If you go out there, there’s nothing like it,” said Katie Zazueta, Downtown College Prep’s director of advancement.

DCP is also working on opening a gymnasium at the middle school, scheduled to debut next April. The gym will be one of only two gyms in east San Jose.

• Why the Holiday Fund is needed: Funds will be used to bring more STEM education and STEM resources to students. Downtown College Prep needs to buy equipment and the rights to the curriculum annually as well as hire more staff.

Downtown College Prep

Location: 1400 Parkmoor Ave., Suite 206, San Jose

Founded: 1999

Annual budget: $20 million

Staff: More than 150 employees


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