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CoFo Blog

CoFo Partners with First Lady to Help Students Reach Higher

College Forward is thrilled to partner with the First Lady’s Office and Civic Nation on a new initiative to provide students across the country with personalized information and encouragement about important college deadlines and resources.

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College Forward | 07.19.16

CoFo Partners with First Lady to Help Students Reach Higher

 

College Forward is thrilled to partner with First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative and Civic Nation to provide students with personalized information and encouragement about important college deadlines and resources.

Building on over a decade of success coaching underserved students across Texas, College Forward will use the Up Next text messaging tool to connect one-on-one with students, helping them accomplish important milestones on their path to a college degree. Studies have shown that purposeful text messages can effectively motivate students to complete college and financial aid tasks at higher rates than other interventions.

In addition to College Forward’s high-touch in-person mentoring services, students will receive personalized text reminders that will further increase college access, college matriculation, and college success. Combined with its powerful student information system, CoPilot, Up Next will enable College Forward to effectively harness the power of technology to amplify its impact.

The partnership was highlighted at the third annual White House Beating the Odds Summit, which celebrates the accomplishments of college-bound high school seniors from across the nation, many of whom are the first in their family to attend college. For more information, follow @FLOTUS and @BetterMakeRoom on Twitter.

We are very excited to expand our reach to more students!

 

CoFo Student Hacking it up at Facebook HQ

The First Lady’s Reach Higher Campaign invited College Forward to attend a 3-hour hackathon at the Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park, California. Executive Director Austin Buchan and Texas State student Alexander Molina represented CoFo at the event – learn more about what they created!

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College Forward | 04.22.16

CoFo Student Hacking it up at Facebook HQ

The First Lady’s Reach Higher Campaign invited College Forward to attend a 3-hour hackathon at the Facebook Headquarters in Menlo Park, California. Executive Director Austin Buchan asked Texas State first-year student Alexander Molina to be the voice for over 6,000 College Forward students.

Alex teamed up with Facebook engineers, students and teachers from across the country to design solutions that drive college graduation rates nationwide. Alex and his team of students started at the base of the problem – getting students to understand the importance of time management and accountability before entering college. The team proposed College Boot Camp, a phone-app for high school seniors that requires completion of listed daily chores and tasks.

Alex says College Boot Camp allows students to compare the demands of their high school life to future college challenges.

“Students will be ready, and know what to expect regarding the demand in work and troubleshooting [for college].”

Currently, Facebook developers are synchronizing and coding the application.

Before leaving to San Marcos, we asked Alex a few questions about his trip to California.

 
What was Facebook Like?
I’m from Kyle, so this was a new experience. I didn’t see myself there. Seriously, this was the opportunity of a lifetime. I mostly do local things so venturing somewhere unknown was really exciting. They had free food everywhere. A lot of the students knew each other already, but I was able to talk to teachers from the Teacher’s Guild organization about higher education for Latino students. Pretty fun.

How will you incorporate what you’ve learned in your daily student life?
I learned the importance of hacking. Hacking is where you take problem-solving ideas and turn them into action. Unlike brainstorming, you’re mostly throwing out ideas, but with Hacking you’re intensely trying to solve the problem in short amount of time. It makes you go deeper to solve the problem. This is something I’ll take back to student government next year, as a Senator. [We need] ideas that won’t get stuck in legislation, so we can work as a cohesive group and compromise.

What encouraging words do you have to share with fellow College Forward students?
Keep moving Forward. You can’t wait around to get something done. Meet people who share the same interests as you and who can help you grow. I want to continue helping people in need. As a Senator, for the next legislative session at Texas State, I plan to help focus on creating a Latino Culture Center so students can feel comfortable when seeking help. Then bring in an immigration lawyer, free of charge, for undocumented students. It’s so hard as a student to continue with classes while searching for the funds to pay lawyer fees.

In the end, I want to help my people!

 

It’s a great day to be a Bobcat. Eat ’em Up!

 


Editor’s Note: A special thanks to the love and support from the staff, friends and Texas State University, who truly believed in a student’s motivation. The Alex2FB – GoFundMe Campaign uncovered so much support we have in the community. We at College Forward appreciate your dedication to help students’ dreams come true.

CoFo’s Rising Stars

Each month College Forward recognizes the contributions of amazing coaches who are working tirelessly to improve college access and completion across Texas. This month, we recognize Ashley Blanco and Maribel Hernandez — read on to learn about these superstars!

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College Forward | 12.17.15

CoFo’s Rising Stars

Each month College Forward recognizes the contributions of amazing coaches who are working tirelessly to improve college access and completion across Texas. Meet two of our coaches below!

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Ashley Blanco
College Access Coach – Houston
Hometown: Houston, TX
College: University of Texas-Austin

Fun Fact: Music is a big part of Ashley’s life. She enjoys going to concerts, played clarinet for 7 years, and even wrote her senior thesis on “Women & Punk Rock.” She is also a fan of One Direction and basically all boy bands… and is “not ashamed to say it!” In fact, she wrote ANOTHER thesis on boy band culture.

Ashley’s Impact: Ashley has been a wonderful addition to the CoFo Access Team this semester, and with her support her students have completed the highest number of college applications! She is an organizational leader, participating in several committees and taking the lead in planning Junior Recruitment activities. We’re grateful and honored to have her on the team!

“My favorite part about working at College Forward is the students. I love to help them in any way they need and just talk to them about whatever is going on. One of College Forward’s core values is ‘Students First’ and I couldn’t put it any better way! I remember needing guidance when I was in high school when it came to college and the program I was in made me feel like I was just a number. College Forward doesn’t make our students feel like just a number, but like we actually want to help and guide them on their journey to and through college.”

 

Maribel Hernández

Maribel Hernandez
College Access Coach – Austin
Hometown: Kaufman, TX
College: St. Edward’s University

Fun Facts: Maribel has a purple front door, as well as a pet donkey named Shrek back home. She is also incredibly invested in “Master Chef Jr.”

Maribel’s Impact: Maribel embodies several of CoFo’s values. She understands the importance of relationships — whether it’s checking in with campus staff or a fellow coach, she is highly collaborative and able to work well with many different people. She finds joy in work and always has a friendly smile for for everyone in the office and in her classroom. She has also been willing to take on new challenges, finding creative ways to implement new projects and problem-solve.

“I love working with our students! Getting to know them and helping them apply to their dream schools is so much fun! From teaching them beneficial skills to helping them graduate college, College Forward puts students first! Making their education and futures a priority is something that I really like and I feel makes this a strong organization.”

Join Cofo at the Texas Tribune Festival – Students Free

College Forward wants to send 3 students to the Texas Tribune Festival, a unique gathering of the biggest names in national and Texas politics, including Julian Castro, Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Steve Adler, and many, many more. Students can rub elbows with some of the nation’s most prominent policy and thought leaders, and learn more about the…

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College Forward | 09.24.15

Join Cofo at the Texas Tribune Festival – Students Free

College Forward wants to send 3 students to the Texas Tribune Festival, a unique gathering of the biggest names in national and Texas politics, including Julian Castro, Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Steve Adler, and many, many more. Students can rub elbows with some of the nation’s most prominent policy and thought leaders, and learn more about the issues that interest them!

The event takes place October 16-18 (Friday to Sunday) at the AT&T Event Center. 

 

This is a GREAT opportunity for students majoring or interested in political science, economics, business, or communications, and a great opportunity for network/resume-building.
 
College Forward will pay for all registration fees, and the opportunity is open to any current high school or college students. All we ask is that students share their experiences on social media while at the festival (live-blog, y’all!), and write a reflection afterward that we can share on social media/website.

 

Summer Student Stories

Ruby R., Access Student – White House Adventure East View High School students Ruby R. and Andrea A. were invited by the White House to join the Beating the Odds Summit hosted by The First Lady, Michelle Obama. We asked Ruby what was her most thrilling moment? “If I had to pick just one exciting…

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College Forward | 09.09.15

Summer Student Stories

Ruby R., Access Student – White House Adventure

East View High School students Ruby R. and Andrea A. were invited by the White House to join the Beating the Odds Summit hosted by The First Lady, Michelle Obama. We asked Ruby what was her most thrilling moment?

“If I had to pick just oneRuby R. exciting moment, it would probably be when I decided to break out of my shell and start to really have a conversation with one of the original students who gave the First Lady the idea to do this. It’s when I realized that I shouldn’t be scared and that this is really a new journey. I do have to take a new approach, and that it’s okay to be uncomfortable!”

CoFo thanks everyone who followed Ruby and Andrea’s journey! “We’re so grateful and proud of all the people who helped create this organization – wonderful students, AmeriCorps members, VISTAs, and friends – and honored to have walked at your sides,” says Lisa Fielder, Founder.

 

Diana Gomez, CoFo Graduate – Study Abroad TeachingDiana Gomez1.jpg

This summer I’ve had the great privilege of moving to Colombia to teach English to highschool students in the city of Pereira. I’m working through the Colombian Ministry of Education and had the chance to go to the Colombian presidential palace and meet President Santos! My students are hilarious and the people of Colombia are the nicest. I’m excited to continue teaching through the fall.

Jessi Lane, Former AmeriCorps Coach

IMG_4177Grab a tissue, Jessi flew from Washington D.C. to see her student graduate!

I returned to Austin to see Jemmy Mondragon graduate from Texas State University. Jemmy was a student in my College Forward class at Lehman High School from 2009-2011. I served in AmeriCorps and with College Forward for two years, both years at Lehman High School, where I coached the same class during their Junior and Senior years of high school.

The moment when I saw Jemmy after he walked across the stage and received his college diploma is a moment I will never forget. It had been four years since I last saw Jemmy at his high school graduation and the excitement I felt for him and his family then is still palpable for me today. That same sense of excitement and phenomenal pride in Jemmy overtook me again at his college graduation. Six years after meeting the eager teenager with big dreams to be the first in his family to graduate high school and college, I gave a huge hug to the now grown-up Jemmy who reached his dreams and made us all so proud.