Our Why

The average high school student receives less than 38 minutes of college counseling over four years.
The counselor-to-student ratio is 1:466.


Counselors are tasked with managing heavy student caseloads and critical competing student needs.

This lack of comprehensive support leads to minimal access to higher education opportunities resulting in systemic income inequality and limited economic mobility.

We’re committed to solving this injustice by helping students and families
overcome barriers while transitioning from high school to college and beyond. 




Our Model

In a culturally sensitive manner, we introduce students to college access strategies that increase best-fit college transitions, experiences, scholarship awards, and graduation rates while minimizing debt.

We engage students and families in the communities where they

Learn, Live, and Work 

Schools, Public Libraries, Churches, Mosques, Other Houses of Worship, Recreation Centers

and through outreach to trust organizations that serve them

By Providing:

- Student/Parent College-Access Overview Presentations

-Targeted Topic Specific Student Workshops

- Scholarship Cohort Learning Communities

- One-on-One Coaching and Group Mentorship 

- College Access and Success Networking 

Our Impact

Over 4,500+ students and parents participated in our college-access overview  process


Over $68+ Million in scholarships and grants earned by cohort students


Over 600+ cohort students provided one-on-one, college-access coaching sessions 


97% college enrollment rate immediately following high school

95% college graduation rate


Our Story

Step Ahead Scholars began organically, as a college prep workshop in response to the lack of support that Black, LatinX, Immigrant, and First-Generation students

and those historically underrepresented in higher education face.

It quickly became a go-to college access initiative

as students and their 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 college equity divide.