Dorson Scholars Program


The Dorson Scholars Program is a tuition-free, four-year, college prep program that supports highly motivated, inner-city, high school students.


Throughout high school, Dorson Scholars engage in year-round programming that offers college readiness skill-building, career exploration and professional development, SAT exam preparation, and college advising to prepare them for admission to the colleges of their dreams. If accepted into the program, Scholars make a commitment to participate in all four years of high school.

The Underclassmen Program

Each fall, we select a small cohort of 9th graders to begin their early engagement with the college prep process through our two-year Underclassmen Program. As underclassmen, students participate in two courses:


The College Readiness Course is a bi-monthly seminar designed to provide Dorson Scholars with the necessary personal development and classroom skills needed to succeed as high school students in preparation for college coursework. Topics will focus on building and improving skills in the following areas: study habits and notetaking, writing, time-management, short and long term goal setting, teamwork, public speaking, and personal branding. 


The Career Development Course is a bi-monthly workshop that encourages Dorson Scholars to explore their career interests while gaining exposure to a variety of career pathways and building connections with professionals in their local community. Dorson Scholars also develop competencies critical to college preparation and professional success, including resume writing, interviewing skills, and professional communications.


In an effort to build leadership skills through community engagement, Dorson Scholars also participate in seasonal Community Service Projects, including our Feed the Homeless Initiative and Toys for Tots Drive.

The Upperclassmen Program

At the start of 11th grade, Dorson Scholars transition to our two-year Upperclassmen Program, where they focus on the college admissions process by participating in two courses:


The SAT Prep Course is a bi-weekly seminar designed to arm Dorson Scholars with the necessary skills to ace the SAT exam. While in a small, supportive classroom environment, students learn vital test-taking strategies, including how to eliminate wrong answers, skim through lengthy paragraphs, and pace themselves through the exam, as well as receive opportunities to take practice diagnostic tests to track their progress.


The College Advising Course is a bi-monthly course that provides supplementary college admissions support through workshops and mentorship throughout the college application process. Dorson Scholars receive support around finalizing their college lists, writing and editing a strong personal statement, and understanding the financial aid process.

Additional Programs

Throughout the four-year program, Dorson Scholars gain the opportunity to also participate in three additional programs designed to further strengthen their academic interests, college readiness, and personal development:

STEM Scholars Program

Cornell University Summer College Program

Student Diplomacy Corps


At the conclusion of their four years with the Dorson Scholars Program, students will have developed a sense of personal, college and career awareness while possessing the tools and self-confidence to succeed in college and beyond.


We are seeking volunteer professionals to lead workshops, mentor Dorson Scholars, or providing internship opportunities.

Get in touch with us today!

Dorson Scholars Program

2019-2020 Info

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Donations go towards the purchase of program materials and operational costs. We are also seeking the donation of new or gently used laptops for student use.

Application Information & Selection Criteria

Application Information

Click here to preview the application questions.

PHASE 1 - Application Deadline: All applications are due Monday, September 30, 2019 at 11:59pm.

PHASE 2 - Interviews: Our team will reach out to schedule an interview with the applicant and a parent/guardian for October 5, 6, or 12. Failure to attend an interview will forfeit consideration for the program.

PHASE 3 - Admissions Decisions: All applicants will receive an email on Sunday, October 20, 2019 notifying them of their admissions decision. Selected Dorson Scholars have until Tuesday, October 22, 2019 to accept.

PHASE 4 - Orientation: Selected Dorson Scholars and a parent/guardian are required to attend the Program Orientation on Saturday, November 2, 2019. Classes begin Tuesday, November 5, 2019.

Selection Criteria

 Only 9th graders are eligible to apply.

Academic promise - You are excited about learning and have demonstrated a strong academic performance.


College aspiration - You are driven to attend college.


Self-motivation - You have demonstrated a level of independence that compels you to complete tasks and goals, even when challenging, without giving up or needing another to encourage you.


Goal-oriented - You have big dreams for your future and are focused on working hard to fulfill them.


Leadership potential - You are driven to help create positive changes within your communities and schools.

Commitment to our four-year model - You are eager to spend your high school career developing the necessary skills and confidence to succeed in college and beyond.