Nottingham grad is example for the girls of F-M's A Better Chance program

The girls of F-M’s A Better Chance program pose with their new resident director, La Rae Martin-Coore (far right).

The girls of F-M’s A Better Chance program pose with their new resident director, La Rae Martin-Coore (far right). Photo by Ned Campbell.

— “If your parents have never done something like this, they don’t know how to guide you,” she said. “You come to a place like the ABC program, we’re going to put you in a position to be successful.”

Ninety-nine percent of the girls in the program nationally go on to enroll in college, according to fmabetterchance.org. The girls who attend F-M have gone on to graduate from prestigious universities such as Yale, Harvard, Colgate and Cornell, Martin-Coore said. F-M ABC helps give them the vision, and the tools, to get there.

“Many of them came here because they know that the schools that they would’ve gone to would be lacking — lacking books, lacking teachers, lacking funding — but when you come to a place like Manlius, that’s the top,” she said.

The atmosphere of F-M ABC prepares them for college as well. Martin-Coore said the girls have to do their own laundry and are given an allowance each week, so they have to learn how to stick to a budget. And much like college, they’re living away from home for four years. They go home during Thanksgiving and Christmas break, as well as for summer vacation.

“They’re learning those things that a lot of high school students don’t necessarily learn at that age, so they’ll be well prepared when they go to college,” she said.

The process of earning a spot in the program — which includes submitting transcripts and recommendations, being interviewed by the board of directors and visiting the high school “campus” — is similar to applying for college, she said, which also gives them an advantage. According to Erica Rube, chair of the F-M program’s board of the directors, 2,5000 girls apply for the program nationally and only 10 percent are selected.

“The girls also get assistance in SAT prep and with the college application process,” Martin-Coore said. “The ABC program carries them all the way through.”

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