The College Discovery Program

The College Discovery Program is a long-term mentoring and academic support program designed to reduce achievement gaps in the Ithaca City School District and increase access to a college education for program participants.

Main Program Components

  • Long-term Mentoring - Each CDP student is matched with a volunteer mentor who provides friendship and encouragement, and helps the student discover new interests.

  • Peer Advocacy and Leadership (PAL) Groups - Students meet together every week to do activities designed to foster friendships, build social skills, develop leadership skills, and encourage community service. PAL is a positive group which strives to create a culture of achievement.

  • Family Dinners - Four times a year, CDP students and their families, as well as volunteers, come together to share a meal. These dinners provide an opportunity for all involved in the program to get to know one another and celebrate student achievements.

  • Homework Club - Homework club is available after school, twice a week for CDP students. During this time, students are able to meet with volunteer tutors to receive help with homework and general academic support.

  • College Discovery Trips - CDP students go on trips to various colleges and universities. Visiting institutions of higher learning helps the students get a feel for college and gives them something tangible toward which to strive.

  • Summer Academy - For 3 weeks during the summer, CDP students attend enriching day programming. Students participate in educational projects, go on field trips and do recreational activities.


Mentors spend 2 hours a week with their matched CDP student hanging out and having fun! We don't ask mentors to act as parents, teachers or disciplinarians; we simply ask them to be a friend. During the 2 hours, mentors and mentees can participate in various activities, such as shooting hoops, playing board games, exploring campus, cooking a dish together, etc. This time provides the mentor and mentee a chance to share in each others interests and learn from each other!

Being a mentor requires a minimum 1 year commitment (if you're a student and you're away for the summer, that's fine, as long as your keep in touch with your mentee via phone, postcards, or emails).


Tutors help CDP students with their homework at homework club. Homework club runs twice a week after school at the middle schools and Ithaca High School.