Our Model

There is an access and opportunity divide.

We’re committed to changing the inequality it causes.


College access education is our tool.

We help students and their families overcome systemic 

high school to college and graduation to work force 

transition barriers. 


Our approach is unique. 

We engage students in a culturally sensitive manner and introduce them to college access strategies and best practices that increase best fit college selection, acceptances, scholarship awards, retention, graduation while minimizing college debt.


Our Impact

Over 3,000 students guided through college admission process


Over $60 Million in scholarships and grants earned


Over 500 one-on-one college access coaching sessions provided


97% college enrollment rate immediately following high school

98% college graduation rate

Our Story

Step Ahead Scholars began organically, as a college prep workshop

in response to  inequality that black and brown students face in under-resourced schools.

It quickly became a go-to college access initiative

as students and families realized it provided access to information, resources, skill sets and strategies needed for successful college transitions. 

In 2010, Kamal Carter, an Atlanta public school teacher, in response to students facing educational disparity and unequal opportunities, created Lunch With a Mentor, a volunteer mentoring program that offered students real world life experiences.

Debra Nealy, a college access and equity advocate, volunteered.  When one senior asked for help, she successfully guided them through the process and began developing the Step Ahead Scholars To and Through College model.


Together, Kamal and Debra with the help of volunteers, are bridging the equity divide.