Delaware nonprofit takes college advising online, welcomes back hundreds of students


Wilmington, Del. — Starting this week, more than 300 teenagers across Delaware will beam in for virtual college preparation with the local nonprofit TeenSHARP, which removes barriers to higher education for low-income, Black, and Latino students.

“Our students can’t break their stride, and neither can we,” said Tatiana Poladko, co-founder of TeenSHARP. “They’re facing a one-of-a-kind school year with unprecedented challenges. We’re stepping up our approach to keep students on track—even accelerating—toward their goals for higher education.”

TeenSHARP’s intensive Striver program will resume Saturday, Sept. 12, with a 10 a.m. kick-off ceremony that’s open to the public. Michael Pickrum, a top business leader with executive experience at Exec Online, Cengage Learning, EverFi, and Black Entertainment Television Networks, will deliver keynote remarks.

Since mid-March, TeenSHARP has taken all of its operations online, including elite college tours and visits with admissions officers, parent workshops, financial aid support, and monthly Town Hall discussions on racism.

“Students and their families need our support now more than ever,” said Atnre Alleyne, who co-founded TeenSHARP with Poladko in 2009. “The pandemic has opened up, and exacerbated, serious gaps in society, including education. But our students continue to strive toward their goals and we’ll do whatever it takes to help them get there.”

The nonprofit offers two core programs—Striver and Delaware Goes to College Academy—and a wide range of auxiliary supports for teenagers and their families. Striver program students take math classes and complete college-level courses every Saturday throughout the school year.

One hundred percent of TeenSHARP graduates go on to attend a four-year college or university.

Students from most high schools in the state have enrolled in TeenSHARP for the coming year, including:

Alexis I. duPont High School
Appoquinimink High School
Archmere Academy
Brandywine High School
Caesar Rodney High School
Cab Calloway School Of The Arts
Cape Henlopen High School
Charter School of Wilmington
Christiana High School
Concord High School
Conrad School of Science and Technology
Delaware Military Academy
Delcastle Technical High School
John Dickinson High School
Dover High School
Early College High School at DSU
First State Military Academy
Freire Charter School
Glasgow High School
Hodgson Vocational Technical High School
Howard High School of Technology
Indian River High School
Laurel Senior High School
Middletown High School
Milford Senior High School
MOT Charter High School
Mount Pleasant High School
Newark Charter School
Newark High School
Odyssey Charter School
Padua Academy
POLYTECH High School
Sanford School
Seaford Senior High School
Smyrna High School
St. Georges Technical High School
St. Elizabeth School
The Sussex Academy of Arts & Sciences
Sussex Central High School
Sussex Technical High School
Tatnall School
Thomas McKean High School
Ursuline Academy
William Penn High School
Wilmington Christian School
Wilmington Friends School
Woodbridge High School

“With so much changing in higher education and K-12 education systems during this pandemic, we are excited to provide a steady set of services to students from so many different schools,” Poladko said. “We never imagined we would deliver our programs 100 percent online, but we have adapted quickly, and we are ready for what’s ahead.”

About TeenSHARP: TeenSHARP is a regional organization headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, that is on a mission to prepare talented low-income, African American, and Latino students to attend and thrive at the nation’s top colleges.

This mission is in service of a bold vision that one day the diversity of those occupying our nation’s highly-skilled jobs and highest leadership positions will be as rich as the diversity of our population. Founded in 2009, TeenSHARP has evolved into a leading provider of innovative, at-scale college access and success support in the Delaware Valley region (including Delaware, Philadelphia, and southern New Jersey).

TeenSHARP has achieved incredible results over the last ten years: 100 percent of TeenSHARP scholars successfully pursue a four-year college education, with 95 percent admitted to selective colleges and universities every year.