College signing day isn’t just for athletes anymore

Watching ESPN and drinking beer may not be the setting you’d expect would give rise to one of the most inspiring school events that’s sweeping the nation. But that’s exactly where Chris Barbic and Donald Kamentz came up with the idea of throwing a celebration for their college-bound students.

Celebrating the success of getting into college may seem like a simple idea, but it is an integral part of YES Prep’s strategy to get students to and through higher education. As such, their college signing day has become a massive display of support for the efforts of their students to achieve academic success.

That success doesn’t happen in a vacuum, though. In a new article for The 74 Million, author Richard Whitmire digs into what exactly makes YES an incubator for college success.


To and through college

YES Prep, a charter school network founded in Houston, primarily educates low-income and minority students. With that unique student population, school leaders often have to think outside of the box to find solutions that fit their needs. They’ve done so with great success.

Academic rigor is a central tenet of YES Prep’s model – high expectations with appropriate supports for all students. Not only do their schools excel on state tests, but their students perform exceptionally on AP exams. Add in innovative social supports and a culture of excellence and you’ve got a recipe for greatness; YES Preppers graduate from college at a rate that is five times higher than their peers nationwide.

These types of accomplishments are exactly what Texas needs to realize its potential. Reaching our goal of 60 percent of Texans with a postsecondary credential will only be possible if we get all of our students ready for success after high school. As our demographics change, replicating the culture of YES Prep is one great way we can prepare for the future.

YES Prep hasn’t worked out all the kinks but is nonetheless blazing a trail in their pursuit of college readiness and persistence to graduation. That culture is spreading among charter schools and hopefully, one day, into many more Texas public schools. And it all started with an idea cooked up over Shiner Bocks in a Houston dive bar.

We believe every Texas child, regardless of race, ethnicity or zip code, deserves a quality education. You can help make that happen.