Recruitment & Placement


  • Current 4th grade student.
  • Lives in San Francisco.
  • Low-income status (based on BASIC Fund scholarship qualification).
  • Will be first generation in their family to attend college.

Recruitment & Referral

  • Fourth grade students are identified as highly-motivated, intellectually curious leaders with strong family support.
  • Students are referred to SMART in spring of their 4th grade year by their public school teacher, a family member, a friend, or a member of another community-based organization.
  • Each year SMART receives over 180 referrals for 35 student placements.
  • Eligible Scholars attend SMART's 6 week summer enrichment program.
  • Scholars enter SMART as rising 5th graders. Final candidates demonstrate strong academic potential, sincere motivation, and a family commitment to participate in an intensive eight-year college bound program.

Partner School Placement

  • In the 5th grade, SMART provides our new recruits (35 students) with step-by-step support through applications to rigorous schools.
  • SMART supports our families during tours, school visits, testing, interviews and with any needed translation services.
  • Our strong relationships with students, their families, and our partner schools help facilitate placement recommendations.
  • SMART’s goal is to find the right school fit for each SMART Scholar, inclusive of financial aid to one of our partner schools.
  • Parents receive training and individualized support around partner school processes, community, and parental involvement expectations.
  • SMART liaisons are assigned at each school (usually a teacher or administrator) to report to SMART regularly on the status of each Scholar, so that we can target academic, emotional, and social support where needed.
  • Scholars receive year-round support from master teachers and tutors to ensure success in their new academic environments.

Tuition Assistance

SMART Scholars are provided with a three to four year scholarship to a partner school in the Bay Area, which is made possible through generous financial aid packages from our partner schools, in addition to scholarships from The BASIC Fund and Guardsmen.

  • SMART ensures all families file paperwork and taxes to receive Basic Fund or Guardsmen scholarships (up to $1,600 a year per student).
  • SMART families commit at least $500 a year towards their Scholar’s education.

High School Admissions

  • Scholars receive step-by-step guidance with partner school applications.
  • SMART provides individualized support in conjunction with the placement counselors at our partner schools.
  • Families receive personalized support with tuition assistance applications and forms, as well as translation assistance for parent statements as needed.
  • Students are provided with free test prep courses, essay writing workshops and application support.