This research project aims to extend and evaluate the College Ambition Program (CAP, www.collegeambiton.org), a whole school design that provides resources and support to low-income and minority students to attend college and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, including biomedicine. CAP is based on fifteen years of empirical work that followed over 1,000 adolescents from middle school into adulthood, a four-year random clinical trial, and reviews of the extant literature on determinants of college enrollment. CAP is being implemented in four treatment high schools (two urban and two rural) and four matched comparison schools, in the future the intervention will include 16 treatment and 16 control schools targeting over 10,000 high school students. All schools have lower than average college enrollments rates when compared with the state average and with other schools with similar student populations on measures of race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and in similar geographic regions. CAP can best be described as a pretest, posttest, quasi-experimental, comparison-group design. The primary goal of this research proposal is to evaluate the efficacy of CAP on student postsecondary attendance at two-year and four-year institutions and to examine the effects of CAP on students (1) postsecondary educational choices (based on Barron's Index of institutional selectivity) and (2) pursuit of a biomedical career in college.
Previous research has shown that the under-representation of historically disadvantaged minorities in biomedical science undermines the quality of medical care received by the same communities, which is not only inequitable but highly problematic given that these same groups represent the fastest growing demographic groups in the United States. The College Ambition Program (CAP) is designed to provide students with information regarding STEM and biomedical careers and enhance their access to postsecondary careers in these fields. This study examines the viability of CAP for encouraging more low-income and minority students to enter STEM and biomedical majors in college and pursue careers in these occupations.