In 2005, Nina Marks, an educator with more than 30 years of experience, founded Collegiate Directions with her husband Jonathan. They saw that bright, motivated students from low-income households lacked the support needed in order to graduate from college. Believing that a college path should be available to these young adults, the Markses developed a program to help them navigate financial, academic, and cultural obstacles.
Nina and her team began building the program, initiating strong connections with Montgomery County public schools, community partners, and college admissions offices that wanted to support these high-achieving future graduates. From the beginning, the CDI program has provided invaluable services like college and financial aid counseling, test preparation, and campus transition support – working with Scholars and their families through college graduation.
CDI experienced rapid and successful growth, and began offering professional development to other schools that work with low-income, first-generation students. CDI has worked with groups across the region, including DC Prep and Baltimore City Public Schools.
The Scholars Program isn’t just about giving kids the chance to go on to higher education. It’s about getting them through their college years successfully, and giving them every tool they need to go out into the world and pursue the life of their dreams.
Today, CDI serves an average of 210 Scholars each year, assisting them with everything from planning their high school curriculum to mapping a post-graduate career path. Spanning the six years from 10th grade to the end of college, this thorough guidance strengthens their skills and empowers each Scholar to create a blueprint for success.
The program continues to evolve and develop, expanding to provide a wider range of professional development services to school counselors. The drive and passion of every CDI team member and the selfless generosity of our supporters will continue to open doors for students, and will create opportunities for future generations to come.