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A private parochial school that targets the poorest of the poor and charges as little as $3 a month for tuition, the Yellowstone Academy in Houston’s Third Ward doesn’t exactly follow the standard recipe for success in the competitive education market.

But eight years into its mission, Yellowstone has found a way to not only remain afloat but also to thrive and expand to serve 320 students at its nondenominational Christian campus.

Tuition is mandated to signify families’ investment in Yellowstone’s mission: helping prepare the city’s poorest students for college. Even though tuition payments represent less than 1 percent of the school’s operating budget, Yellowstone employees spend significant time tracking down the minuscule payments.

For these families — whose median household incomes are only about $8,000 a year — aspirations of higher education seem like a fantasy.

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