Shepherds students studying

Who Are Shepherds Students?

Shepherds students are young people who:

  • Recognize the need to look beyond the resources of the public school system
  • Seek greater opportunities afforded by a challenging college prep curriculum
  • Value the support and guidance an adult mentor can bring them


Shepherds Student Characteristics

Diverse Backgrounds
  • The typical annual ethnic breakdown of the Shepherds student body is approximately 60% African American, 30% Hispanic, 7% Caucasian and 3% Other. Shepherds does not discriminate against race, creed, national origin, or gender. All prospective students are evaluated equally for their potential to be successful Shepherds students.
  • Family faith practices vary. Religion is not a factor in Shepherds selection of students to participate in the program.
Academic Potential
Shepherds Students typically do well in middle school grades and have standardized test scores that indicate they have potential to do even better.
A Family Situation Presents a Need and Opportunity
  • Shepherds student families need additional financial support in order to afford the tuition expense to attend a private, college prep high school in their local community.
  • Most Shepherds students come from single parent homes where the parent may not have graduated from high school; where family income is at or below the poverty level; and where English is often not spoken at home. They live in family situations which present an opportunity where a Shepherds mentor can provide guidance and advice for the student.

I plan to go to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, Ny and major in Biomechanical Engineering.



Notre Dame, West Haven

Meeting my mentor was so important to me. She has pushed me to do my best.



Kolbe, Bridgeport


Participation in the Shepherds program comes with many benefits for the student and their family such as:

  • Tuition assistance to reduce a family’s financial burden
  • Adult mentoring to guide and encourage the student through the fun and formative years of high school
  • The opportunity to participate in a wide variety of academic, social and college prep activities not available to other students


In order to qualify to be part of the Shepherds program, students must first apply and be accepted into one of the Shepherds partner schools. This includes taking a standardized high school admissions test.

For information on admissions to our Partner schools, click one of the links below:

Shepherds Student Screening and Selection Process

Once the student is accepted into the Shepherds partner school, the school's Admissions office will review school applications and recommend a student for consideration by Shepherds based on the following criteria


  • Demonstration of financial need as determined by the partner school Admissions and Administration staff
  • Identification of academic potential not yet realized
  • Potential to be successful in the Shepherds program

If these criteria are met, the partner school will send a Shepherds Student Application to the prospective student and family.

Once the Shepherds application has been received back and reviewed, the potential candidate and his or her parents or guardian may be asked to meet with the Shepherds Student Selection Committee for an in-person interview. The Shepherds Student Selection Committee then evaluates students based on all of the above information and the meeting.

Based on Shepherds assessment of the student and family’s potential for success and availability of Shepherds funding each year, Shepherds is typically able to notify students and family of the status of their application by May 30th each year.

The Shepherds selection process strives to offer as many qualified students as possible the opportunity to become a Shepherds student. We work with our school partners to consider all fairly and objectively but regrettably we are not always able to select as many qualified students as we would like.


The Shepherds team, which includes the student’s family and partner school, invests a large amount of time and money in the student. Shepherds expects the student and family to fulfill their part of the relationship.

Student Expectations

Minimum expectations of Shepherds students.

  • Maintain academic performance of at least a C+ level across individual courses and total GPA
  • Build and maintain a respectful and ongoing student/mentor relationship
  • Participate in all required Shepherds academic, life skills and college prep supplemental programs
Annual Goals
  • Each year Shepherds students sign a contract agreeing to comply with the standards of the program
  • At the beginning of each year, the student, family and mentor establish goals for what they want to accomplish during the upcoming academic year
  • Mid-year and at the end of the academic year, each student’s record is reviewed with the school and their mentor to assure progress is being made toward the mutual goal of successful high school graduation

If Shepherds sees a fall-off in any aspect of the student’s requirements or their family’s participation in the program, the following steps are taken to correct the issues in order to improve results.

  • A verbal conversation with the student can usually address most matters
  • Occasionally, parents may need to be brought into the discussion
  • Several steps are taken to improve results
  • If academics, student/mentor relationships or engagement in programming activities continue below expectations, a student’s participation in Shepherds, including tuition support, can be terminated