NCAN Announces White House College Opportunity Commitments

December 3, 2014

By Elizabeth Morgan, Director of External Relations

Today, the National College Access Network (NCAN) joins President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college. The White House College Opportunity Day of Action helps to support the President’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.

Along with NCAN’s executive director Kim Cook, at least 46 NCAN member organization leaders are participating in the summit, each making its own commitment to action described below.

NCAN’s Organizational Commitment to More Training

As a non-profit organization founded to share best practices among college access practitioners, NCAN commits to increasing the availability of training about research-based college access and success services proven to help more students enter and complete college. Specifically, NCAN will expand our Fundamentals for College Access & Success Professionals e-learning training system by adding seven new training units by the end of 2015 and pursuing badging and continued education units (CEUs) status for each. This training system offers a cost-effective, on-demand professional development for college advisors and guidance counselors nationwide. 

The first two training units already available—Federal Financial Aid Programs and Financial Aid 101—introduce the basic vocabulary of financial aid and provide an overview of federal aid programs. The next seven units in development include:

  • ACT
  • SAT
  • Testing Strategies and Resources for Low-Income Students
  • Admissions Advising for First-Generation College-Goers
  • FAFSA Completion 101 & 201 
  • College Access for Homeless Youth
These units will be available at a reasonable price to all guidance counselors and college access advisors across the country. Additionally, the FAFSA Completion 101 and 201 units will be ready for use to train counselors, advisors, and volunteers during the 2015 FAFSA completion season.

When completed, the e-learning system will comprise 24 units with 30 hours of professional development on topics from early awareness programming to college student retention strategies. Additional future topics will include advisor roles and responsibilities, early awareness strategies, parent engagement, college retention, scholarship processing, data collection and analysis, and considerations for serving adult learners, English language learners and undocumented students, and opportunity youth. 

NCAN Member Organization Commitments

ACCESS College Foundation (Virginia) 

The ACCESS College Foundation, in partnership with Tidewater Community College and local school counselors, plans to increase and expand advisor training in the South Hampton Roads, Virginia region, thus increasing the percentage of students filing FAFSAs and enrolling in postsecondary education programs. ACCESS will train 170 high school counselors and college access advisors with the goal of increasing the percentage of students filing a FAFSA from 51% in 2014 to 60% in 2015. Additionally, ACCESS will expand its successful school-based college access model to the Eastern Shore of Virginia in Northampton County, which includes a $1.6 million investment in the area.

ACT (nationwide)

ACT has developed three related initiatives to improve support for school counselors and reduce information barriers by providing personalized attention for underserved students at key transition points. ACT Profile offers free accounts to school counselors and college access advisors on a new college and career planning resource that is online, mobile, and social. Dialing for Scholars is a pilot project to increase college access by testing the impact of personal outreach to underserved students in the weeks before scheduled tests.

ACT’s initial goal is to increase the test-taking rate for students with fee waivers by 10%. ACT will share information to better prepare students for the test experience and the college preparation and choice processes. ACT will also provide additional post-test follow up to help students understand their score reports and retesting options. Students with fee waivers who meet at least three of four ACT college readiness benchmarks will also receive information to address potential “belonging uncertainty” by informing them that ACT data shows that students from similar areas with similar college readiness scores have succeeded in college.

Get Your Name In The Game is a three-year research project to expand college options for low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students. This research project will enable underserved seniors to share their information with eligible colleges and universities, “getting their name in the game” for possible recruitment and admission. ACT will partner with colleges and universities on this project, which will benefit as many as 725,000 students per year, and ACT will study the impact on access, enrollment and retention.

AVID (nationwide)

AVID is implemented in approximately 5,000 schools and impacts more than 800,000 students in grades K-12 and in 43 postsecondary institutions. Schools and districts take methodologies and strategies from the AVID elective course and implement them school-wide and district-wide to impact entire communities and create articulated programs for college success. AVID contributes to increased postsecondary enrollment, increased rigorous course completion, increased FAFSA completion rates, and increased CCR training for school counselors.

The AVID College Readiness System will expand access to CCR to 1 million students by 2020. AVID will increase the number of AVID secondary schools, and thereby the number of counselors who are supported by the AVID College Readiness System. AVID will focus on strengthening its support to interdisciplinary AVID school site teams, which include counselors, in order to scale up college and career advocacy on campus. This will allow for a larger number of counselors to support AVID and non-AVID students in FAFSA completion, submitting college applications, and excelling in courses of rigor to prepare them for college success. Specifically, AVID commits to graduating at least 30,000 AVID students per year for the next five years, with hopes of graduating 50,000 students per year in the next three years. AVID will ensure that its alumni persist into their third year of college at a rate of at least 80%.

Berea College (Kentucky)

Berea College commits to increasing the college and career readiness of students in fourteen rural, Appalachian Kentucky school districts, known as its target area. Berea College will assist students through a program called GEAR UP. Beginning in the 2015-2016 academic year, GEAR UP to Learn will include mentoring programs and individualized academic interventions focused on educational resilience, study skills, note-taking, self-management, and self-discipline. GEAR UP to Campus is a school-wide advising program that outlines individual goals, interventions, and services and will be implemented for students beginning in 8th grade. GEAR UP to Work will include mentoring, individual career pathways exploration, career site visits, job shadowing, 21st Century skill development, and focused college visits based on career interest.

Berea College also commits to launching and funding the Horizon Fellows program during the spring of 2015. This program will increase the college success rate of 50 high-achieving, low-income students attending rural Appalachian Kentucky High Schools. Once fully implemented, Horizon Fellows will serve 100 Fellows annually, including 50 high school juniors and 50 high school seniors. 

Bottom Line (Illinois, Massachusetts, New York)

Bottom Line will train its team, high school counselors, non-profits, and destination colleges where its students decide to matriculate. Bottom Line will increase engagement with high school seniors to ensure that 80% have a postsecondary plan on or before graduation day. Bottom Line will commit to ensuring that students actually arrive on campus in the fall after high school graduation. 

College Advising Corps (nationwide) 

College Advising Corps works to increase the number of low-income, first-generation college, and underrepresented high school students who enter and complete higher education by placing well-trained, recent college graduates as full-time college advisers in the nation’s high schools. CAC makes a nationwide commitment to ensuring that 40,500 students submit three or more college applications, 81,000 complete and submit a FAFSA form, and 115,000 students meet individually with a CAC college advisor at least once. Additionally, CAC will use its new eAdvising initiative, in partnerships with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the College Board, to serve 6,250 students. 

College Forward (Texas) 

College Forward trains near-peer mentors to provide intensive coaching for underserved students, 11th grade through baccalaureate, as they work to enter college, stay in college, and earn credentials. College Forward commits to increasing the number of high schools and colleges served including increasing the college application, acceptance, and matriculation rates; increasing FAFSA completion; and increasing persistence rates. By 2014-15, College Forward will serve 16 high schools, 19 colleges, reaching 1,900 high school students, and 2,500 college students. By 2015-2016, College Forward will serve 25 high schools, 27 colleges, 2,800 high school students, and 3,100 college students. By 2018, College Forward will serve 50 high schools and 50 colleges, reaching 16,900 high school students and 7,900 college students. 

College Possible (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania)

College Possible makes college graduation possible for capable, low-income students through an intensive curriculum of coaching and support. By 2020, College Possible commits to supporting more than 15,500 low-income college graduates annually. In that time frame, College Possible will expand to five new cities, for a total of ten cities served, and add 15 new schools to the current cities served. Additionally, College Possible will add 50 new colleges to the College Possible Connects partnership with campus communities. 

CollegeSpring (California) 

CollegeSpring provides teachers and undergraduate mentors with lesson plans and extensive curriculum resources along with training and ongoing support in offering college information and support to students. Over the next year, CollegeSpring commits to expanding its work with traditional public schools and districts, where there is a high need for our services. Between the 2014-15 school year, including the summer of 2015, CollegeSpring commits to serving 600 students in traditional public schools, a 42% increase from last year.

College Success Foundation (Washington and Washington, D.C.)

College Success Foundation (CSF) commits to increasing the percentage of College Bound scholars enrolled in the Washington State Achievers program by 20%. The College Bound Scholarship program provides an early commitment (eighth grade) of financial assistance to low-income students in Washington State who want to achieve the dream of a college education. CSF also commits to providing early engagement and college readiness supports to 7500 middle and high school students in Washington state and Washington, DC, including mentoring, college exposure and awareness, college advising, college and scholarship application support, and FAFSA completion guidance and support. As a result of CSF's direct service and capacity-building efforts, in 2014-15, CSF's goal is to realize a 15% increase in immediate college enrollment rates, a 15% increase in persistence from year 1 to year 2, and a 10% increase in college completion.

College Track (California and Louisiana)

By 2016, College Track will double the number of high school and college students served to over 3,000, and double the number of college and university partnerships to more than 20. College Track will ensure that more than 95% of its students will be accepted into a 4-year university and at least 90% of its students will matriculate into a 4-year university. 75% of students that will enter college from College Track’s existing cohorts will graduate from a 4-year university. By 2024, College Track will serve over 10,000 students. To do this, College Track plans to open one new site per year in addition to increasing its impact at its existing sites in the California Bay Area, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Colorado, also increasing the number of college graduates tenfold to over 1,500. Finally, College Track will increase its revenue from $12 million to $50 million by diversifying its revenue sources.

CollegeBound Foundation (Maryland)

CollegeBound Foundation will work with the Baltimore Education Research Consortium to provide Baltimore City Public Schools staff with information about the alignment of student credentials and college enrollment and the importance of the match between students and colleges as a basis for discussion. CollegeBound Foundation will provide district and school staff information about historical and current trends for each school and the district overall. The Foundation will also build on its partnership with JHU Graduate School of Education’s Counseling Department and their work with Baltimore City counselors to provide professional development to district and school staff explaining the importance and relevancy of their past and current work.

College Greenlight (nationwide)

College Greenlight is an online college and scholarship platform that encourages first generation, low-income, and underrepresented students to expand their college options and increase the quality and quantity of their college applications—actions that significantly increase their likelihood of enrolling at institutions that fit them academically, socially, and financially. Currently several top universities partner with College Greenlight to help the institutions enroll more low-income students, women, and underrepresented minorities in STEM.

College Greenlight is announcing several new efforts to bring more students into STEM, including significantly increasing the number of colleges utilizing College Greenlight to recruit low-income, underrepresented, and first-generation students. They will also significantly increase outreach to organizations supporting low-income and underrepresented students in STEM pathways in order to double the number of students on College Greenlight interested in pursuing STEM education and careers. In addition, the organization will quadruple the number of Upward Bound Math & Science programs using College Greenlight from almost 20 to 80.

College Greenlight is forming a STEM advisory board consisting of college admissions officers, high school counselors, nonprofit student advisers, and STEM education experts, to develop detailed CCR material focused on STEM higher education and career pathways and provide students with access to resources, such as STEM summer programs, to put them on the recommended pathway. Finally, the organization is committing to build the largest database of STEM-focused scholarships for high school and current college students, providing valuable funding to increase matriculation, retention, and graduation rates of students in STEM fields. In conjunction with this effort, they will develop partnerships with STEM scholarship providers to grow the pipeline of low-income and underrepresented minority student applicants for top national scholarship programs.

Denver Collaborative (Colorado)

Working as a collaborative, leadership from Denver Public Schools (DPS), the City of Denver, Denver Scholarship Foundation, the Community College of Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and the University of Colorado Denver seek to increase college attainment for Denver high school graduates. The goal is to have 65 percent of DPS graduates from 2015-17 to persist in or complete a postsecondary degree, an increase from the six-year persistence and attainment baseline rate of 60 percent, through:

  • Increasing the percentage of students applying to at least one college from 87% (2014) to 92% (2015) to 95% (2016).
  • Increasing the percentage of FAFSA completions from a baseline of 48% (2014) to 53% (2015) to 58% (2016).
  • Increasing the percentage of students enrolling in postsecondary education from 46% (2013) to 53% (2015) to 60% (2016).
  • Doubling the number of students who graduate from high school as college and career ready from 1,100 to 2,200 by 2020 (with incremental annual growth).
  • Increasing the number of seniors from participating high schools applying for at least one scholarship by 50% (2015) increasing to 55% (2016).

A wide variety of strategies will be used by the collaborative to incorporate the above. Sample activities, which seek to increase college applications, include organizing school-wide college application days with partner colleges and Denver Public Schools Office of College and Career Readiness, collaborating with college access programs to help track college applications, and integrating college applications into senior seminar-type classes during the school day. FAFSA completion strategies will include financial aid workshops, FAFSA training for pre-collegiate advisors and district counselors, more than 20 hands-on FAFSA workshops, partnerships with colleges to help streamline and communicate the verification process as well financial aid support at transition to college summer workshops.

To increase enrollment, summer melt outreach will be coordinated among college access providers and DPS counselors, campus visits and advising opportunities will be offered to increase student exposure to multiple educational pathways that include technical programs, transition to college workshops will be offered to finalize enrollment and financial aid and host college signing days will be celebrated at participating high schools. College and career readiness activities include offering students Accuplacer during senior year, developmental education courses prior to their graduation and during the summer before college and increasing participation in concurrent enrollment and college-credit bearing course offerings. Finally, the collaborative will seek to increase the number of scholarship applicants by organizing school-wide scholarship application days, scholarship and financial aid nights for parents, scholarship overview and training with community partners, district-wide scholarship fairs and by publicly recognizing students who receive scholarships.

Educate Texas (Texas)

Educate Texas commits to working with regional teams (including colleges, school districts, and workforce partners) to meet the goal of at least 100,000 STEM 2- and 4- year degrees by 2019, to meet predicted Texas workforce needs. Led by Educate Texas, regional teams of higher education and workforce partners will: 1) Use real-time labor market data to identify regional STEM workforce needs; 2) Collaboratively develop strategic plans that use research-based practices that are known to support and increase student performance in STEM academic and career pathways; 3)Develop Regional STEM Pathway Plans that outline steps for increasing the number of underrepresented students in each region who graduate with postsecondary STEM credentials (including two-year, four-year, or technical degrees and/or workforce certificates) that meet identified workforce needs.

Florida College Access Network (Florida)

Florida College Access Network (Florida CAN) is committing to join forces with national and regional partners to provide college and career counseling training for Florida school counselors, direct service providers, and mentors. The initiative will focus on training to build a college-going culture for all students; college, career, and academic planning; and financial aid and college applications. Trainees will then be better prepared to provide college and career readiness assistance to the students and families they serve. The initiative is anticipated to increase college enrollment rates, contributing to Florida CAN’s Big Goal for at least 60% of all working-age Floridians to hold high-quality, postsecondary degrees or credentials by the year 2025. 

Franklin & Marshall College (Pensylvania)

Franklin & Marshall College will play a strong role in a new collaborative initiative funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies to increase the number of high-achieving, low- and moderate-income students who apply to and graduate from top colleges and universities with strong graduation rates and financial aid policies. The initiative will help tens of thousands of students apply to, enroll in, and graduate from top colleges and universities. The initiative will also engage college and university presidents and leading experts to spur changes in recruitment and financial aid policies and practices in order to enable more of these students to enroll and graduate.

George Washington University (GWU) aims to double the number of underrepresented students majoring in STEM disciplines and increase the engineering graduation rate of these students by 10 percent. GWU’s plan calls for considerable allocation of new faculty lines to an undergraduate Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Academy to train STEM faculty members in the use of scientifically proven pedagogical approaches in their classrooms. The creation of a STEM Academy enables GWU to hire faculty prominent in STEM education to lead initiatives in the field; recruit and support high-quality science students at all levels: undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral; and develop an outreach strategy to attract students from underrepresented groups.

I Know I Can (Ohio) 

I Know I Can (IKIC), in partnership with the Superintendent of Columbus City Schools (CCS), commits to ensuring that every CCS student is prepared for college or entering a career after high school. IKIC commits to implementing full-time advising, which will increase both the depth and scale of services that students receive. IKIC and CCS will add $3.4 million to the delivery of college and career readiness services for the nearly 14,000 students enrolled in the district’s high schools annually. This new commitment also includes an expansion of the advising team from 15 to 35, reducing the current advisor to student ratio from 1:2602 to 1:780.

Illinois Student Assistance Commission (Illinois)

Since 2004, the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) has been providing intensive statewide training on completion of the FAFSA. To encourage effective use of the data and proactive promotion of FAFSA completion, ISAC will launch a new type of training module for counselors before the 2015-16 FAFSA filing season focusing on how and why FAFSA numbers matter, how they impact students and families and overall college access and completion, and how to better integrate FAFSA completion initiatives into a comprehensive framework for CCR. By engaging 50% more counselors in this more comprehensive approach to FAFSA completion, ISAC can ultimately help increase the number of students in Illinois who both complete the FAFSA and attend college. ISAC also commits to improving the current 39% college completion rate among Monetary Award Program (MAP) recipients by 25%, reaching 50% by 2020. 94% of MAP recipients are Pell recipients. This effort will impact the lowest income, full-time students who receive funding through Illinois’ largest need-based grant program.

iMentor (nationwide) 

By partnering with high schools in low-income communities and matching every student in the school with a college-educated mentor, iMentor seeks to increase the number of first generation college students who enroll in college and graduate with a degree. In order to ensure more first generation college students complete college, iMentor commits to offering all students the option to extend their relationships with their mentors through college completion. In this new model, mentors will commit as many as eight years to a single student. In addition to extending its mentoring relationships, iMentor will provide the additional structure and support necessary to improve college persistence and completion rates for participating students.

Iowa College Aid (Iowa)

Iowa’s College Changes Everything approach engages key stakeholders from across different sectors in our communities toward a common goal – increasing the area’s college attainment rate to 60 percent by 2025. The effort will reach 8 communities across the state, all of which have lower educational attainment rates and median household earning than the average for the state. Goals are to:

  • Increase percentage/number of students applying to two or more colleges by 20%.
  • Increase percentage/number of FAFSA completions by 20%.
  • Work toward doubling the number of adults in each community with a degree or credential by 2025.

With strategies focused on capacity-building and community empowerment, the partnership will use funding from the federal College Access Challenge Grant to offer community planning sub-grants (prioritizing proposals w/ evidence of strong community partnership, leadership, and sustainability); leverage the role of VISTA volunteers in each community; provide access to data, training and strategic assistance for community leaders provided by ICA, and other state and national experts; serve as a “backbone” partner and resource to sub-grant recipients by helping communities develop, complete and submit a signed common agenda, a completed asset map, a plan for backbone support, National Student Clearinghouse Student Tracker reports, a college access and success dashboard and identify priority areas for action planning. Communities that successfully complete the Planning Sub-Grant process will be considered for a future Implementation Sub-Grant.

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (nationwide) 

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation (JKCF) expands on a dozen years of increasing access to and through college for high achieving, low-income students by committing to build a comprehensive college advising platform that will fill in gaps not currently met by existing websites and services. JKCF has identified the need for virtual college advising using chatbot technology supported by a learning computer, a texting service to provide personalized reminders and resources to students who sign up, and a focus on the specific needs of high-achieving, low-income students engaged in the college process to address the persistent undermatch of these students. Additionally, JCKF will increase the number of undergraduate scholarships provided by nearly 170 annually over the next four-year period.

KIPP (nationwide)

KIPP will undertake new efforts to increase academic rigor /college readiness for the 120,000 students who will be in KIPP schools in 2020. And, KIPP will focus on two specific new KIPP Through College initiatives impacting KIPP students and alumni who are matriculating to and enrolled in college: College Match and College Persistence efforts.

KIPP’s College Match Initiative: Informed by national research regarding under-matching among low-income students, KIPP will focus a multi-prong, multi-year pilot to drive better matches, which will include:

  • Match Matters campaign: Designing and deploying ongoing communications efforts targeting students, families, counselors, and other staff that focuses on: understanding students’ academic profiles and their college implications; building smart wish lists of likely, match, and reach schools tailored to students’ academic profiles; preparing for the cost of college; and getting an early start.
  • Rigorous goal setting and process monitoring of key leading indicators.
  • Creating professional development opportunities and new resources focused on supporting the college counseling process and matching specifically.

KIPP’s College Persistence Initiative: Informed by research and projections from the Pell Institute, KIPP commits to undertake a multi-prong, multi-year effort to drive higher levels of college persistence, including:

  • Developing a "Persistence playbook" and supporting tools and resources for counselors who are advising college-age students, informed by best practices in summer transition and college advising and help ensure KIPP students are: on track academically, networking and navigating their campuses effectively to access resources and supports, monitoring their financial situation; and pursuing a specific plan and passion.
  • Using digital platforms to support advisor-to-advisee relationship-building / info sharing at scale.
  • Strengthening near peer mentoring efforts. As KIPP’s alumni network grows, significant opportunities are emerging to encourage alumni who are upper classmen on campus to support younger alumni arriving on campus. This work will build on the foundation of 65 college partnerships where KIPP has clusters of students.

Kresge Foundation (nationwide)

The Kresge Foundation commits to three new grants: (1) $740,000 to the University of Texas at El Paso to support its project, Academic Institutions for Military Students (AIMS). This grant supports Phase I of the Academic Institutions for Military Students (AIMS) network to increase degree completion for military service members, veterans and their dependents at public community colleges and universities. (2) $1,100,000 to Achieving the Dream to expand its Working Families Success Network in Community Colleges project. (3) $350,000 to Columbia University's Community College Research Center to support building the City Colleges of Chicago's capacity to analyze and use data to guide students' program decisions, improve program effectiveness, and measure the return on investment to students and Chicago taxpayers. 

LEDA (nationwide)

The Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA) is dedicated to diversifying the nation’s leadership pipeline by helping high-achieving, low-income students along the entire path of college readiness, college access and college success. LEDA will increase by more than 60% the number of students receiving college counseling services and begin college counseling earlier, starting in the spring of junior year. Introducing an early engagement initiative for parents and guardians will help to build knowledge and support at the family level. LEDA will enhance strategies for cultivating the best “college match,” including exposure to STEM programs, women’s colleges, liberal arts colleges, and higher education programs to support male achievement. LEDA plans to strengthen collaboration with its admission partners to expose program participants to approximately 100 selective higher education institutions.

Maryland Higher Education Commission (Maryland)

In partnership with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), Maryland College Goal Sunday, and others, the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) will ensure that 75% or more of local education agencies will have participating schools in the Maryland College Application Campaign (MCAC), and the number of participating schools will increase by 100%. MHEC will increase the percentage of high school seniors who complete and submit the FAFSA through “train the trainer” opportunities for high school guidance counselors, and support for Maryland College Goal Sunday FAFSA completion events. MHEC will establish a statewide Maryland College Access Network (MD-CAN) to connect nonprofit organizations, businesses, state agencies, community organizations, and other entities that promote college access, and provide training and advising opportunities in college readiness, college and career pathways, grant writing, and college financial aid to member organizations.

Michigan College Access Network (Michigan)

The Michigan College Access Network has committed to helping Michigan achieve the following:

  • Expand the quantity and quality of college access professionals working in Michigan high schools
  • Achieve a rate of 90 percent of seniors from partner high schools that complete at least two college applications by December 31, 2015
  • Ensure that 70 percent of seniors from partner high schools complete the FAFSA by June 30, 2016
  • Ensure that partner high schools achieve at least a 6 percent college enrollment rate increase from the 2013 graduating class' baseline by December 13, 2016
  • Support 81 advisors who serve 100 high schools and 61,610 students, 59 percent of whom are low-income
  • Double the number of schools and students served by college access professionals

National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (nationwide)

The College and Career Readiness Evaluation Consortium (Consortium) is implementing a longitudinal research and evaluation project of fourteen GEAR UP state grant projects, collectively serving over 100,000 students in over 650 high-poverty middle and high schools. GEAR UP projects serve underrepresented and minority students in low-income communities as they matriculate from middle school to college. Expected outcomes include increasing FAFSA completion, helping students prepare for and succeed in college by providing targeted counseling and college advising interventions, and making data-driven decisions based on results. The National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) serves as the managing partner for the Consortium which also includes partners ACT, Inc. and the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

Normandale Community College (Minnesota)

Normandale Community College commits to increase student retention in STEM fields by 10 percent over the next 10 years, resulting in a total of 2,800 STEM students retained to graduation or transfer. Additionally, Normandale commits to serving 500 low-income, women, and underrepresented students of color over the next 10 years, an increase of 50 percent over the current initiative. 

Northern Arizona University (Arizona)

North Arizona University (NAU) will provide a dual track for ensuring that high school counselors receive training in the college access standards for both current professionals and pre-professionals. Partnered with the Arizona College Access Network, NAU will increase underrepresented student enrollments in postsecondary education, specifically among Native Americans, by training educators on college access standards. Providing professional development to counseling staff in underserved schools will ensure that students receive the proper information and mentoring to plan for, apply to, and enroll in a postsecondary program of their choice. NAU will also include this training in its Master’s of School Counseling degree program, NAU expects that these efforts will significantly increase the number of Native American students who apply, are accepted to, and enroll in postsecondary education in Arizona.

Office of the State Superintendent of Education (Washington, DC)

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) has made a commitment to increase the quality of college and career advising for all middle and high school students in the District of Columbia (DC). By supporting informed high school and college choice for families and meaningfully engaging with a wide variety of college readiness stakeholders from across DC, OSSE aims to improve postsecondary enrollment from 62% of high school graduates to 70% by 2017. Beginning in winter of 2014, Learn DC high school profiles will display the percentage of students participating in SAT, ACT, AP, and IB exams, student achievement on AP and IB exams, students reaching the “college readiness” benchmarks set by the College Board and ACT, students completing FAFSA and DC Tuition Assistance Grant applications, and students applying, enrolling, and completing postsecondary degrees. Much of this information has not been available previously to the public, and OSSE believe that it will better inform the choices of families and the practices of college counselors and school leaders. OSSE will also kick off its first citywide FAFSA Completion Initiative this winter with a FAFSA awareness campaign and FAFSA assistance workshops in January and February across the city to help DC students and families complete and submit their FAFSAs. Most importantly, this January, OSSE hopes to share real-time FAFSA completion data with LEAs through an online platform created in collaboration with the Kresge Foundation.

OneGoal (Illinois, Texas, New York) 

OneGoal commits to ensuring 5,300 additional college graduates by the 2025 by working with 10,000 students in six regions. Three primary principles that will drive this effort are: 1) The use and sharing of “student growth data” to drive decision making and assess effectiveness; 2) Advocating for an AmeriCorps-based College Success Corps; and 3) Leveraging the federal college rating system to help guide students to high-value, low-cost postsecondary options.

Opportunity Network (New York)

The Opportunity Network commits to enhancing college advisement for the field by training college access organizations, schools, counselors and front-line program staff to provide holistic college guidance that entails and connects college prep, transition, success and career readiness. By strengthening the college-to-career connection in college advisement, counselors, teachers and front-line staff will amplify their ability to facilitate matriculation at best match schools that play a critical role in college persistence and career readiness. The Opportunity Network's comprehensive CCR advisement would include components such as the role of college in career exploration, career exposure modules and professional skills development for students to help them navigate the college application process, transition to college, succeeding in college and being competitive for a career upon graduation.

Measures of success will include robust and explicit college-to-career connections, including 25% of increased knowledge of college opportunities, 50% of increased knowledge of career opportunities as they relate to college options, a 10% increase in college matriculation and a 20% increase in completing the first year of college. The Opportunity Network commits to training 5-10 staff from at least ten partners institutions, serving a total minimum of 5,000 additional low-income students by 2020.

Options Center of Goddard Riverside Community Center (New York)

Options Center of Goddard Riverside Community Center (Options) provides annual college access and success counseling training to more than 900 school counselors, school staff and college access advisors. Options commits to expanding its training to reach an additional 1,000 school counselors and college advisors in ten new communities over the next three years. Options will pilot these efforts in Chicago and Puerto Rico starting in late 2014 and early 2015, respectively. Furthermore, Options commits to developing online training content based on its current curriculum which can be offered nationally. More than 100,000 students will be impacted as a result of Options’ increased training. Options expects more students to apply to college, more to apply to more colleges, and more to better understand the college selection and financial aid processes.

Rutgers University (New Jersey)

In 2008, Rutgers University implemented Rutgers Future Scholars (RFS), an ambitious college-readiness, access, and scholarship program. RFS selects 200 low-income, first-generation-to-college 7th graders to participate in the program annually. RFS is designed in close collaboration with public school district partners. RFS expects to meet key CCR benchmarks towards Scholars’ postsecondary success, including a 100% FAFSA completion rate, a 95% high school graduation rate, a 90% immediate postsecondary enrollment rate, and a 75% postsecondary completion rate within six years. Research estimates that each RFS cohort saves the state $30 million dollars over its lifetime. RFS leaders commit to creating a toolkit that highlights best practices and core programmatic elements to encourage other higher education institutions to make similar commitments.

Say Yes to Education Buffalo (New York)

The mission of the Say Yes Buffalo partnership is to strengthen the Western New York economy by investing in the education of Buffalo’s future workforce. The primary goals of the partnership are to convene the school district, parents, teachers, administrators, state, city and county governments, higher education, community based organizations, businesses and foundations to increase high school and postsecondary completion rates by using data driven strategies.The partnership seeks to achieve the above goals by focusing on the following strategies:

  • Growing the partnership’s FAFSA completion initiative with the Buffalo Public School District and the University at Buffalo, from an annual enrollment of 50 to 600 seniors.
  • Implementing, district-wide, the Student Management System (early warning system), created in partnership with the Buffalo Public Schools, and deepening collaboration with key community-based wraparound partners.
  • Build on piloted framework to implement quality, data-driven after school and summer programs that are free and open to all students, PK-12.
  • Grow and strengthen the Summer Success Academies, which were created in partnership with institutions such as Erie Community College, Medaille College and the City of Buffalo.
  • Expand the Say Yes Buffalo Scholarship program, providing tuition scholarships to graduates of public and charter schools in Buffalo, to any New York State public college or university or one of more than 60 private colleges and universities nation-wide.

Scholarship America (nationwide)

Scholarship America’s mission is to mobilize America through scholarships and educational support to make postsecondary success possible for all students. Scholarship America currently partners with colleges in two major ways: through their Collegiate Partners program, where colleges agree not to displace scholarship funds with other grant aid, and through their Dreamkeepers program, where colleges provide students with emergency financial assistance. In addition to its continued policy work, in 2014, Scholarship America commits to a new strategic focus on serving low-to-moderate income students and communities of greatest need. As part of this strategic focus, Scholarship America will add 110 additional community based scholarship chapters by 2020. These chapters will be located in high-need communities including states with limited need-based financial aid programs; metropolitan areas with high poverty rates; poverty-stricken rural and suburban towns near community colleges and regional universities; and where partnerships are ripe with others committed to serving students from K-12 through college completion. 

Southern Regional Education Board 

Southern Regional Education Board’s (SREB) College and Career Counseling Initiative (CCCI) is a multi-state consortium that works to increase the knowledge and skills of professionals who advise students, especially low-income and first-generation college students, on reaching their postsecondary aspirations. Member states include: Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah. A key program component is a series of training modules, “Strategies in College and Career Counseling,” for professional development of middle grades and high school counselors, principals, teachers, career and graduation coaches, and staff of college advising programs. The modules are also used as part of master's degree programs in professional school counseling.

An updated version of the training, drawing on research and evaluation findings, will launch in 2015. This version will include accompanying materials for non-school-based college access professionals, including staff of community-based organizations and college access programs. Also, CCCI will partner with SREB's Student-Centered Leadership program to create mini-modules for administrators on developing principal-counselor relationships that help build a college-going school culture. CCCI will hold annual meetings of key constituents, school counseling faculty, state agency and district leadership, and staff from college access programs to disseminate research findings and resource materials and share best practices.

Spring Branch Independent School District (Texas)

Spring Branch Independent School District (SBISD) is committed to an overarching goal of doubling the number of students who complete some form of higher education. Its T-2-4 goal defines higher education as a technical certificate, military training, two-year, or four-year degree. To meet its aggressive goal, SBID has formed several important partnerships and greatly expanded its counseling options. These partnerships will allow SBISD to achieve specific metrics, which will contribute to the success of SBISD’s overall goal. SBISD expects to achieve a 95% SAT and ACT completion rate, a 90% immediate higher education enrollment rate, a 90% FAFSA/TAFSA completion rate, and a 90% rate of students who complete at least three opportunity applications.

StriveTogether (nationwide)

The StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network is focused on bringing rigor to the concept of collective impact as an evolution from traditional collaboration in order to achieve measurably better results.StriveTogether, with support of the Lumina Foundation and their Community Partnership for Attainment, aims to collectively increase FAFSA completion within six StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network communities by June 30, 2015 through the use of continuous improvement practices. StriveTogether will work with each community on modeling how to use data on an on-going basis to improve practices in real-time in order to increase completion of the financial aid forms and college enrollment rates. The six communities participating in Project FAFSA include: Richmond, VA; Cincinnati, OH; Fort Wayne, IN; Rio Grande Valley, TX; Providence, RI; and Albuquerque, NM. StriveTogether as the national intermediary commits to codifying and sharing lessons related to how to achieve results at scale with all the communities engaged as part of the College Access and Success commitment.

Tennessee College Access and Success Network (Tennessee) 

The Tennessee College Access and Success Network (TCASN) is committed to training 200 total school counselors and college access practitioners through its College Access Project (CAP) course, which is developed and offered in partnership with the Ayers Institute for Teacher Learning and Innovation at Lipscomb University. If each participant serves a caseload of 200 students, TCASN will help 40,000 students access college. CAP is an online course consisting of stackable strands, and was built using the expertise of over 400 college access experts and practitioners. TCASN also commits to partnering with K-12 school districts to assess how CAP is affecting school counselor practice and student-level outcomes around college-going, such as FAFSA completion, decreased under matching, college-going rates, and college persistence rates. 

uAspire (Massachusetts, Florida, California) 

In response to the enormous and pressing need for schools and college access organizations to better equip students to prepare for and meet the costs of college, uAspire seeks to leverage its unparalleled experience in the college affordability field to spread positive measureable impact via the uAspire Training and Technical Assistance (T&TA) Program. uAspire commits to establishing T&TA partnerships with 40 school districts and charter management organizations, which will train 1,600 school counselors, who will reach more than 60,000 students. Second, uAspire commits to establishing T&TA partnerships with 20 national and/or community-based college access and success organizations, which will train 400 college access staff members, who will reach more than 30,000 students. Finally, uAspire will explore the development of a certification or credential in college affordability, engaging 400 counselors in the effort, who will impact more than 20,000 students.

Washington Student Achievement Council (Washington)

Washington Student Achievement Council's goals are to:

  • Achieve a 100% rate of adults in Washington who have a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Achieve at least a 70% rate of Washington adults who have a postsecondary credential
  • Offer professional development opportunities focused on college and career ready (CCR) counseling
  • Expand peer mentoring and support services
  • Double FAFSA completion rates

The Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC) will initiate the Scholar Support Services through its College Bound Scholarship program by offering CCR counseling with professional development opportunities through school and Education Service Districts to enhance the knowledge base of counselors and anyone in school that touches a child’s learning experience. WSAC also plans to expand peer mentoring and support services at 69 campuses to support the College Bound students in college.

WSAC is committed to doubling its FAFSA completion efforts and will maintain the number one position in the country. WSAC will launch the FAFSA Completion Initiative to connect all 295 school districts with the Department of Education FAFSA data to support in-school efforts to increase FAFSA completion rates in Washington, and expects to see a double digit increase in the FAFSA completion through this initiative. WSAC will also commit resources to meet with students where they are through social media, digitizing CCR content to provide academic advising, mentoring and career guidance, and financial literacy through the ReadySetGrad web portal. The Council plans to begin using text messages and other means to reach students where they are most comfortable and accessible.

WSAC will promote the state’s new Career Guidance Washington – a CCR program model designed to prepare all students with support from an advisor and/or counselor with guidance, curriculum and tools. Each of the 6-12 grades will have a sequence of 20 lessons that are customized to CCR. Starting with 75 GEAR UP schools, these lesson plans and curricula will be used to reach 34,000 low-income students across the state. 

WE CAN! Newaygo County (Michigan)

Since the 2011-2012 school year, Newaygo County has secured three college advisors from the Michigan State University College Advising Corps, a member institution of the National College Advising Corps. These well-trained professionals provide near-peer college advising by meeting one-on-one with students and parents, supporting the college application process, encouraging FAFSA and scholarship application completion, and celebrating each student’s milestones throughout the process. In addition to increasing the number of full-time college advisors from three to five in Newaygo County, WE CAN! will ensure that its high school counselors will be trained in college advising and postsecondary planning. This will ensure that all students are receiving quality information concerning their career options and the paths to achieve their goals. Ultimately, WE CAN! Newaygo County aims to achieve 10% increases in FAFSA completion and in postsecondary enrollment rates by 2016.

Yes We Must Coalition (nationwide)

The Yes We Must Coalition is an organization of small, non-profit, private colleges and universities where 50 percent or more of each campus undergraduate enrollment is Pell-eligible whose purpose in organizing is to share resources, information and promising practices to improve the success of low-income and first generation students and to be a voice for our students in the policy arena.

To help schools in their coalition reach their completion goal, Yes We Must commits to working with coalition campuses to develop an Institute to assist campus teams in developing implementation plans and outcome measures focused in three key areas in order to identify and share successful strategies necessary to build greater support and capacity to disadvantaged students. The Coalition will:

  • Explore financial models, including financial aid, revenue generation and cost cutting, for small, underfunded institutions in order to streamline costs, control student debt and stabilize institutional financial health.
  • Improve the curriculum to career connection from the beginning of the academic journey and strengthening the career services offered to students throughout their college career.
  • Develop more streamlined and deliberate pathways to graduation and using learning outcomes assessment relevant for our student populations which research demonstrates will increase the likelihood of graduation by low income and first generation students.


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