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Rainier Scholars

Program Description

Rainier Scholars is a nonprofit organization that serves as a long-term college preparatory program for students of color in the Seattle metro area. Our mission is to increase the college graduation rates for our scholars and to develop a new generation of leaders.

Among the many services we provide for our students and families, Rainier Scholars offers a 14-month academic enrichment program, placement into private schools and top honors programs in the public schools, one-on-one academic mentoring throughout middle and high school, advocacy for students and families, college and financial aid counseling, and mandatory leadership training.

Each spring, we invite 60 promising students of color to embark on an 11-year life-changing journey. It demands hard work and commitment. In exchange, it offers invaluable opportunity. In four phases--Academic Enrichment (grade 6), Academic Counseling and Support Services (grades 7 & 8), Leadership Development (grades 10 - 12) and College Support (postsecondary)--our scholars learn the skills, make the connections, and accumulate the knowledge and experience that will enable them to excel in college and assume positions of leadership as adults.

Success Stories

NANCY VAN: Garfield High School, Seattle

Nancy Van is an only child and lives with her mom who only speaks limited English. Because of this, Nancy has had to step up to a more mature role in the family, showing herself to be more responsible than many of her peers.

Winter 2011
Nancy enrolled in the SAT prep course through Rainier Scholars and did not miss a single class. She scored a 1590 on her first practice test, but after taking the real SAT in March, she scored a 1740, increasing her score by 150 points. She ended her junior year at Garfield with a 3.98 in the most rigorous classes she could possibly take.

Summer 2011
Nancy attended our inaugural Application Bootcamp in August so she could start the Common Application and brainstorm topics for her college essay. As of August 17, 2011, Nancy had two colleges on her list: University of Washington and Trinity College, which I'd told her about in the spring of junior year. She had no idea what she wanted to study in college. She knew she liked science and international relations.

Fall 2011
Nancy attended three of the five senior college workshops, which were held from 4 to 6 p.m. in the months of October and November. During these workshops, Nancy sought advice about her essays and learned about the colleges who sent admissions counselors to these events. She was able to complete her Common Application during one session, and she received valuable feedback about her essay at another.

Nancy was drawn to a small, liberal arts environment, so I gave her applications for Multicultural Fly In programs at Bowdoin, Bates and Trinity in hopes that she could see firsthand what a liberal arts experience is all about. She was accepted to Prologue to Bates, a first generation college student program, and visited campus for two nights in early November. She fell in love with the school, particularly the relationships that students clearly had with professors. Nancy said to me, "It was obvious that Bates students got to do what they loved. The college supports whatever that is and even gives money to students to pursue their passions. I want to go to a school like that."

Nancy returned from Lewiston, Maine, with a newfound spirit to write strong essays and supplements. She met with our Learning Specialist twice to tweak her third and fourth drafts. By the end of November, Nancy decided to apply Early Decision II to Bates College and was admitted.

August 2012
Nancy is enjoying her first week at Bates and thinks she will thrive in the Bates community!

Services Provided

  • Academic enrichment/tutoring/study skills
  • Career exploration and counseling/internships
  • College admissions guidance and counseling
  • College fairs/campus visits
  • College transition and retention support
  • Financial aid advising/FAFSA completion
  • Leadership development
  • Parent/family services
  • SAT/ACT and other test preparation


Race & Ethnicity

  • American Indian or Native Alaskan: 2%
  • Asian or Pacific Islander: 22%
  • Hispanic/Latino: 19%
  • Other: 16%
  • African American: 41%

Education Level and
Number of Students

  • High School: 160
  • Middle School: 170
  • Elementary School: 0
  • Post-secondary: 100
  • Non-traditional: 0


  • More than 75%

Colleges Attended
by Alumni

  • American University
  • Barnard College
  • Bates College
  • Bellevue College
  • Beloit College
  • Boston University
  • Carleton College
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Carroll College
  • Colgate University
  • Columbia College
  • Columbia University in the City of New York
  • Eastern Washington University
  • Eckerd College
  • Fashion Institute of Technology
  • Fordham University
  • Georgetown University
  • Gonzaga University
  • Goucher College
  • Hampshire College
  • Hofstra University
  • Howard University
  • Ithaca College
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Kenyon College
  • King University
  • Lewis & Clark College
  • LIM College
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • Loyola University Chicago
  • Marist College
  • Merrimack College
  • Montana State University
  • Morehouse College
  • New York University
  • North Park University
  • Northeastern University
  • Northern Arizona University
  • Oregon State University
  • Pace University - New York City Campus
  • Pacific Lutheran University
  • Polytechnic Institute of New York University
  • Pomona College
  • Princeton University
  • Providence College
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Saint Martin's University
  • Saint Mary's College of California
  • Santa Clara University
  • Seattle Pacific University
  • Seattle University
  • Skidmore College
  • Smith College
  • Southern Methodist University
  • Southwestern University
  • St Catherine University
  • Syracuse University
  • The College of Wooster
  • The New School's Eugene Lang College
  • Trinity College
  • Trinity University
  • Union College
  • University at Albany
  • University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego)
  • University of California-Davis
  • University of California-San Francisco
  • University of California-Santa Barbara
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • University of Denver
  • University of Maryland-Baltimore County
  • University of Miami
  • University of Notre Dame
  • University of Puget Sound
  • University of Redlands
  • University of San Diego
  • University of Southern California
  • University of the Pacific
  • University of Washington-Bothell Campus
  • University of Washington-Seattle Campus
  • Washington State University
  • Wellesley College
  • Western Washington University
  • Whitman College
  • Whittier College
  • Whitworth University
  • Willamette University

Matriculation & Completion

  • 4-yr College Matriculation: 100%
  • 4-yr College Graduation: 98%