Getting Started

Planning Month by Month


Our initial contacts with potential partner schools started with phone conversations and school visits to share the program goals, structure, benefits for their students, and general information about participation in the C2C program.

During these meetings, print materials for partner-school administrators that provide information about the C2C program were shared. Examples of these materials are available for download: The summer portion of C2C, the academic camp occurs over four intensive weeks in July. During that time, we serve approximately 100 rising 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students from low-income, primarily urban communities. They come from our partner middle and high schools in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Arizona, and Montana.

But planning and follow-up for our successful college preparation program is a year-around job for the C2C Director and C2C Coordinator. The monthly planning guide and associated media materials for each step are listed here to guide others who wish to travel this “Camino a la Universidad” (Road to University), the Spanish equivalent for our Countdown to College name.

First-Year Planning details the organizational activities that Saint Mary’s University administrators, faculty, and C2C staff completed in order to conduct its first C2C summer academic camp with 25 participants from eight partner schools in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Arizona. In the five years since C2C was initiated, we have added schools and detail to our commitment to students of color from low-income urban communities.

Continuing the C2C Program lists the follow-up duties of the C2C Director and C2C Coordinator each year after the camp concludes.

First-Year Planning

September - October: University Planning Group Meetings

It’s been our experience that involvement of the University administration, faculty, and staff was a key component of the success for our college preparation program. While our planning process occurred over an entire academic school year, we are including it as a two-month process as the minimum planning process that a university would probably need.

We found it important to include faculty from the Schools of Education, Business, Arts, and Humanities, as well as support staff in our Student Life, Wellness, and Study Skills areas. Because the most visible and intensive part of C2C would involve serving up to 100 high school students on a college campus, representation of summer support staff was particularly important. Academic personnel were included in the planning team in order to assist with curriculum planning.

The following meeting notes (with names omitted) give some flavor of the conversations that took place during the planning time:

Meeting Notes 1

Meeting Notes 2

November: Recruiting partner schools

Contacts with potential partner schools were initiated first via phone and email, then face-to-face meetings at the school location. After the initial phone call, an info sheet was mailed to administrators who would be in on the school-based meeting. Additional print information included an FAQ sheet and an invitation to students regarding application to be part of the very first C2C cohort.

At the initial meeting, plans were discussed for meeting with school staff, particularly counselors and 8th grade teachers, to give them background knowledge on the college preparation program and enlist their help in identifying students who would benefit from this unique four-year program.

Information for Administrators

C2C FAQ (English)

Countdown to College 2010

December - January: Developing printed materials for partner schools

With schools not in session for part of December and January, this is an ideal time for the C2C team to develop documents that will guide participating schools through the nomination process.

C2C Nomination Guidelines

February: Recruiting partner-school teachers and university instructors

February is an important month for recruitment of teachers. The C2C model is premised on the synergism of two instructors in every classroom: One professor from the University who is responsible for the curriculum that will prepare students for college success, and one from the students’ home schools who will help University instructors understand the unique needs of low income students of color from urban areas. In addition to personal visits and conference calls, the C2C Director sends out printed information to share with potential partner-school teachers.

2010 Teacher Flyer

Curriculum Overview

Instructor Application

Teacher Recruitment Letter

March: Identifying potential C2C students

The C2C Director and C2C Coordinator meet with administrators, counselors, and teachers in all partner schools to discuss guidelines for nominating up to four candidates, either 8th grade graduates of our partner middle schools or entering 9th graders of our partner high schools. The guidelines are based on the criteria that Saint Mary’s University uses to identify entering freshman for the FGI Scholars program, which provides full tuition, room and board, and cultural, academic and social support for qualified students, with graduates of C2C being first in line for consideration.

FGI Overview Presentation

Recommendation Form

April: Meeting with nominees and their families

All nominees for a C2C four-year scholarship are notified by mail, followed by school site visit by the C2C Coordinator to acquaint them, their school counselors, and their parents with the program. The C2C Coordinator delivers the parent orientation in both English and Spanish.

Interested nominees complete an application, which includes a spontaneous essay written under supervision from their teachers or counselors. Spelling and resource aids are not permitted during this essay, in order to give the C2C selection committee an informal assessment of each candidate’s needs in written language. Parents are asked to write a brief essay, either in English or Spanish, about why they would like their child to be considered for the C2C program.

C2C Brochure (English) | (Spanish)

C2C FAQ (English) | (Spanish)

C2c Overview (English)  | (Spanish)

C2C Student Application

Notification and Parent Essay

May: Selection of students and recruitment of camp counselors

From the pool of all nominated students, 24 are selected to receive the invitation to participate in the four-year Countdown to College program. The selection committee considers three sources of information in ranking students: (1) Countdown to College Nomination (completed by teachers or admissions counselors); (2) Student Essay; and (3) Parent Essay.

Students who are selected for the C2C program receive a packet of information from the C2C Coordinator, who also arranges for transportation for students and their families to come to Saint Mary’s Winona campus.

April and May are also busy times for recruitment of C2C camp counselors. Upper class college students at Saint Mary’s or graduates of Saint Mary’s are offered these positions in order to ensure that counselors are familiar with the campus and general Saint Mary’s policies regarding use of facilities.

Camp Counselor Application

June: Final preparations for the C2C Summer Camp

June is reserved for making sure that all campus facilities and materials are ready; for double-checking transportation arrangements for students and their parents; for training the C2C camp counselors. See the June listing of Continuing the C2C Program for a TO DO checklist that will guide your University on final preparation for a successful academic summer camp.

Camp Schedule

July: Blast Off! Countdown to College implementation

July was chosen for the C2C camp at Saint Mary’s based on partner-school schedules. Some schools did not end their academic year until mid-June, while others started their fall schedule early in August. Therefore, as we added the full four-year program—with 50 students the first two weeks of July (Years 3 and 4) and 50 students the last two weeks (Years 1 and 2)—we needed to stay within the footprint of July. This meant only one day of rest between the two camps for our staff.

See July of the Continuing the C2C Program for a listing of what is entailed in offering this program.

Información Sobre la Beca

Scholarship Program

FGI Scholars Program

Workshop Curriculum

August: Wrapping up and getting ready for school-year follow up

After all the academic and recreational equipment and materials are collected, inventoried and stored, the C2C Director reviews and summarizes assessment data for each student, as well as instructor and partner-school teacher lesson plans and program feedback. The C2C Coordinator reviews student and camp counselor feedback. Meetings involve sharing information, identifying areas for improving next summer’s program, and plans for school-year follow up.

Continuing the C2C Program

September - November: School follow-up visits

Most of the school-year follow up in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois is the responsibility of the C2C Coordinator, and begins with the commencement of each high school year. The C2C Coordinator is responsible for monitoring the academic progress of all C2C students in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. This includes frequent school visits and phone calls with students, their parents and school counselors. After each marking period, student grade reports are sent to the C2C Coordinator for review and follow up.

Because follow up in Arizona and Montana involves lengthy, expensive trips, this is planned for once a year, with both the C2C Director and C2C Coordinator participating. These follow ups are described in the March section, and involves both follow up on current students, and recruitment of new students and partner-school teachers.

December - January: Preparing for the next year

Although Saint Mary’s University faculty and the C2C partner school teachers are on break during this time, the C2C team has a lot of preparatory work to accomplish. Some duties accrue to the Director, some to the Coordinator, and some are joint, as indicated by the listings below.

C2C Director

  • Review assessment data from previous summer to pinpoint areas needing curriculum revision
  • Revise curriculum guides for instructors
  • Update principal and teacher contact info
  • Prepare print and media reports for Saint Mary’s faculty, administrators, and staff; partner-school personnel; and donors. See examples.
  • Investigate sources for funding support and prepare media materials for use in search for funding. See examples.

C2C Coordinator

  • Update student and counselor contacts
  • Update student forms for continuation in C2C
  • Review first-semester grades for all participants
  • Schedule follow-up appointments, with priority for those needing interventions to stay on track for successful high school graduation. These appointments include the student, high school counselor, and parent(s).
  • Schedule workshops on college admission for C2C graduates who are seniors in high school, in coordination with Saint Mary’s Admission counselors for each city/state

C2C Director & Coordinator

  • In conjunction with the Saint Mary’s Admission counselor for each city, conduct workshops in January on college admission for C2C graduates who are seniors in high school. These sessions include both parents and students.
February: Recruiting instructors and follow up with students

C2C Director

  • Contact principals and teachers—partner schools
  • Recruit Saint Mary’s instructors
  • Work with Saint Mary’s Admissions department on C2C graduates who are applying to the University

C2C Coordinator

  • Initial communication with schools regarding C2C nominees
  • Continue regular follow up visits with current C2C students in their high schools
  • Check with C2C graduates (seniors in high school) regarding their college application process
March: Continued follow up and preparation for upcoming session

C2C Director & C2C Coordinator

  • Trips to Tucson (AZ) and Browning (MT) to follow up with currently-enrolled students and their families, meet with school administrators, counselors, and teachers regarding nominations for new students, and recruit partner-school teachers
  • Review school follow-up information for all currently-enrolled students for decisions regarding continuation in the summer academic camp

C2C Director

  • Continue to recruit and process University and partner-school teacher applications for C2C July session
  • Review C2C curriculum for all classes and assemble instructor resource guides from past sessions

C2C Coordinator

  • Nomination deadline for middle school partners. Process nomination papers
  • Meet with parents and nominees to explain C2C program and distribute application forms
  • Reserve University classrooms and meeting rooms for July session
  • Check on C2C graduates’ admissions to college
  • Continue regular follow up visits with current C2C students in their high schools
April: Continued preparation for July session

C2C Director

  • Work with HR to complete the hiring process for University instructors and partner-school teachers
  • Meet with University faculty regarding curriculum changes
  • Order educational supplies and tests

C2C Coordinator

  • Confirm classrooms and meeting rooms
  • Confirm dorms and meal arrangements for C2C students and their parents
  • Nomination deadline for high school entrants. Process nomination papers
  • Meet with parents and nominees to explain C2C program and distribute application forms
  • Continue regular follow up visits with current C2C students in their high schools
May: Selection of new C2C students and confirmation of returning students

C2C Director & Coordinator

  • Work with selection committee to choose 24 students for the four-year C2C scholarship award
  • Notify students, parents, and school personnel
  • Meet with science instructors to finalize field trip transportation needs, academic agenda, and computer needs

C2C Director

  • Collaborate with University instructors to finalize curriculum plans
  • Refine assessment plans with instructors
  • Order needed instructional materials and resources for instructors
  • Order assessment materials
  • Finalize topics for evening workshops and contact speakers, workshop leaders

C2C Coordinator

  • Send out acceptance packets—important documents, consent forms
  • Send out C2C packets for returning students
  • Arrange transportation for students and parents: airline tickets, buses, vans
  • Arrange transportation for field trips, academic activities, airport pickups
  • Finalize dorms and meals for students, parents, and partner-school teachers
  • Summer activity schedule
  • Camp counselors work schedule
  • Collaborate with University summer planning group (weekly meeting)
June: Getting ready!
C2C Director

  • Create class lists
  • Plan parent schedule for 1st and 4th year parents
  • Set up teacher workroom
  • Get educational resources out of storage and sort by instructor and class
  • Create shopping list for needed educational supplies, coffee, workroom treats
  • Assemble tests and testing database for Years 1-4 of C2C
  • Order/create supplies needed for evening workshops
  • Arrange for videographer/photographer for parent interviews and student activities
  • Prepare faculty workroom for instructor workshop and disbursement of educational supplies to individual classrooms

C2C Coordinator

  • Check that all student and parent information packets have been received
  • Create final student database with addresses, parent names, insurance info, etc.
  • Reserve buses for field trips and educational activities
  • Order t-shirts and bags for Years 1-4, instructors, and counselors
  • Create shopping list for recreational supplies, treats, laundry needs
  • Review housing and food arrangements with campus personnel
  • Train Camp Counselors (one full week)
  • Set up dorms (names on doors, keys, etc.)
  • Arrange for opening day dinner with students, parents, instructors, and teachers (Year 1) ; dinner with benefactors, instructors, and parents for graduation day (Year 4); and final dinner for Year 1 and 2 with benefactors
  • Create airport pickup schedule for students and parents from Arizona and Montana
  • Create van schedule for Minneapolis student and parent pick up
  • Create bus ride-along schedule for camp counselors on Chicago, Racine, Waukegan, and Milwaukee buses

C2C Director, Coordinator, & Camp Counselors

  • Shop for all educational, recreational, and food (treats) needed for both camps
July: Blast off!

C2C Director, C2C Coordinator, & C2C Camp Counselors

  • Organize bus and van pickup schedules

Saturday, Day 1:

  • Welcome parents, students, and partner-school teachers as they arrive on campus
  • Meet and greet at dinner and afterwards for instructors, teachers, counselors, and coordinator
  • Parent excursion to Walmart (parent annual request!) after video message session

Sunday, Day 2:

C2C Director

  • Presentation/discussion with parents regarding program benefits and expectations (Scholastic and behavioral)
  • Lunch send-off for parents
  • Group assessment of C2C students: Nelson-Denny Reading Test, WRAT4 spelling, GRIT (Duckworth), Noncognitive Variables Questionnaire (Sedlacek)
  • Half-day workshop with C2C faculty
  • Organize evening study hall supervision schedule for partner-school teachers
  • Evening meeting with students regarding class schedules and academic expectations

C2C Coordinator

  • Meet with students to discuss camp rules and procedures
  • Lunch send-off for parents (counselors and students attending)
  • Supervise parent transportation back home
  • Meet with camp counselors to refine job schedules and organize evening activity


C2C Director

  • Early morning: Prepare faculty workroom (coffee, treats, requested additional supplies); check that classrooms are open and ready
  • Supervise student movement to and from class, breaks between classes
  • Respond to instructor requests
  • Communicate with parents via phone as needed
  • Prepare instructor workshops (twice a week, during lunch break)
  • Score student tests, enter in database, and analyze results to develop individual profiles and identify special needs.
  • Co-teach and substitute as needed (Year 4—Daily teaching responsibility for Language Arts class)
  • Supervise one of the nightly study halls; assist partner-school teacher on duty in the other (Sunday-Friday)
  • Ensure that nightly workshop/presentation for students is ready to go (Sunday-Friday)
  • Meet with Coordinator daily to ensure smooth operation of all camp aspects, including final arrangements for Year 4 graduation and Year 1 dinner with benefactors
  • Meet with students as needed to discuss behavioral and/or academic expectations
  • Last day: Collect instructor and co-teacher feedback form: successes, problems, recommendations for improvement in academic program

C2C Coordinator

  • Responsible for student programming for all non-academic time
  • Meet nightly with camp counselors to review day’s events and go over assignments for next day
  • Ensure that all recreational facilities, supplies, and transportation are ready to go
  • Supervise movement of students during breaks—lunch, after school, after nightly workshop, field trips)
  • Consult with night supervisor regarding any intervention needs
  • Check all food arrangements for celebratory meals, field trips, educational excursions, dorm treats, transportation home
  • Communicate with bus leasing company, airlines, and University van supervisor as needed
  • Be ready for constant phone communication with parents, University facilities managers, counselors
  • Supervise all departure activities: buses, vans, transportation to airport
August: Clean up, debrief, report

C2C Director & C2C Coordinator

  • With camp counselors, collect, organize, itemize, and store all recreational and educational supplies
  • Debrief with camp counselors: Successes, issues, recommendations for changes
  • Celebrate with camp counselors
  • Review respective reports for development of a comprehension continuing plan
  • Prepare reports: Videos, updates on program website, reports to partner schools, donors, and University administrators
  • Plan presentations to be submitted to national conferences (NCORE, International Lasallian Research Institute, AAC&U)

C2C Director

  • Compile and summarize instructor feedback
  • Analyze multi-year student assessment results for Years 2-4
  • Develop yearly report of program effectiveness and recommendations for changes

C2C Coordinator

  • Compile and summarize feedback from camp counselors and students
  • Prepare summary report with recommendations for any needed changes
  • Update student data for school-year follow up: Student personal contact info, high school contact info, parent info