The overall goal of AdvanceNOLA is simple – to provide high school students with the tools needed to succeed in college. With a $1.6 million grant from the ExxonMobil Foundation and generous donations from the AT&T, Prothro, and James Patterson Foundations, the Cowen Institute at Tulane University implements an Advanced Placement training and incentive program in several public high schools in New Orleans. This program has infused these high schools with a new culture and direction based on improving post-secondary education awareness, preparedness, and success. It is premised on proven strategies using a philosophy of high expectations and incentives for performance. Research has shown that the initiative’s main components, listed below, drastically increase the number of students (especially minorities) who are prepared for and graduate from college.

Areas of Focus:

  • Launch of Advanced Placement courses in partner schools, including funding for textbooks, materials, and lab equipment
  • Extensive professional development and mentoring opportunities for principals, teachers, and school counselors
  • Performance-based monetary incentives to students and teachers in order to strengthen participation
  • Support students through prep sessions and after-school tutoring
  • Provide site coordinators (Cowen Scholars) at public high schools to support projects focused on improving college readiness, decreasing dropout rates, and easing the transition from high school to college
  • Host summer bridge programming for students in partner schools


Download our 2012 Progress Report, which details our success to date.

We originally launched seven Advanced Placement (AP) courses in three high schools in the Spring of 2009, with 67 students enrolled. One student received a qualifying AP score.

In 2009-10, enrollment in the program more than doubled, with 11 AP courses serving 158 students within four public high schools. Three students received qualifying AP scores.

2010-2011 marked another milestone in continued AdvanceNOLA expansion, with five partner high schools serving 313 students who were enrolled in 17 AP courses. We are pleased to report that 22 of these students earned qualifying scores.

We retained four partner high schools in the 2011-12 school year, when 408 students enrolled in 22 courses across the city took 579 exams. Of these, 36 exams earned qualifying scores.

Now in the 2012-2013 school year, we have doubled our number of partner schools increasing our site based programming  to eight public high schools in Orleans Parish. Our current partner schools are listed below.

Partner Schools:


Click here to download our 2012 Progress Report.

We were invited to present our challenges and successes at the College Board’s National Forum in New York in October 2011. Download the presentation here.

Click here to download our 2011 Progress Report.

College Readiness Contacts:

Alex Hand
Manager of Operations and Youth Programs