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College prep agency forced to shut down

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College Connections Hawaii, a nonprofit that provides tutoring, test preparation and college advising services to at-risk youth, is closing its doors July 31 because it does not have enough money.

The nonprofit started up in the islands 11 years ago, and has helped thousands of students get into college, board Vice President Amy Hennessey said.

"I think the important thing to note is the legacy of College Connections," Hennessey said. "We wanted kids to understand that they can have access to college. It’s not an unachievable goal."

Hennessey said the organization lost about $400,000 in key grant funds this year and could not afford to continue operations.

College Connections has four full-time employees and 20 part-time tutors and test prep workers statewide.

In recent months it had been working to cut

expenses in hopes of continuing operations. But when bankruptcy seemed an all-too-real option, the nonprofit decided to call it quits.

"It’s really sad for us, as an organization, not to continue," Hennessey said.

College Connections’ core mission is to serve students from low-income families or from populations underrepresented on college campuses.

The agency provides free tutoring and SAT test preparation and has partnered with Parents and Children Together, the Searider Productions media program at Waianae High School and more than 100 public schools.

Hennessey said the good news is that since College Connections came on the scene, other programs have been launched to encourage college attendance in underserved populations.

"We realized there were other opportunities in the community," she said. "We hope the vision of the organization lives on in the students who we’ve helped."


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