Alvernia is deeply committed to improving educational attainment levels in the City of Reading. In 2014, over 36% of the adult working age population of the city had less than a high school diploma. The graduation rate for Reading High School was below that of the other 18 districts in the county, while its dropout rate was five times higher than the next worst district. That year Alvernia launched the Reading Collegiate Scholars Program designed to increase high school graduation and college attendance rates in Reading, while ensuring the success those Reading students who attend Alvernia.
The Holleran Center operates the College Readiness Component of the Reading Collegiate Scholars Program, using work study students at Alvernia as mentors and tutors for high school students in Reading, while introducing those students to the possibility of attending college.
The O’Pake Institute operates the College Success Component of the program. Each year 10 Reading city students are offered full tuition scholarships to attend Alvernia. Functioning as a self-supporting cohort, the group is provided with a member of the faculty to serve as their academic mentor throughout the course of their time at Alvernia. Each scholar is assigned a community mentor to help them balance work, family and school while exploring career opportunities. The scholars participate in a two week long transition period called the Summer Bridge Program which helps introduce them to college life, become more self-aware and equip them with the tools that they will need to be successful while in college. The students sign a compact agreeing to be active on campus, maintain the requisite grades and when they graduate commit to “paying back” to the community.