0%

All News

Meet Our Summer Members!

Each year a group of CoFo college students joins the AmeriCorps ranks as “summer bridge members”, coaching incoming students as they transition from high school to college. Why spend your summer in the CoFo offices? Current members weigh in!

Keep Reading

College Forward | 06.20.17

Meet Our Summer Members!

Each year a cohort of CoFo college students joins the AmeriCorps ranks as “summer bridge members”, coaching incoming first-year students as they transition from high school to college, and offering support to help students avoid “summer melt.”

Bridge members also collaborate across departments on capacity-building projects — developing resource guides, helping to plan upcoming trainings, and participating in interviews for new coach positions – while gaining valuable professional experience that translates to future college and career success.

Why spend your summer in the CoFo offices? Our current bridge members weigh in:

 

Dondrika (Sam Houston State University)

“I’m interested in being a summer bridge member so I can help students figure out their interest and decide on a major. I hope to help at least one student find their destiny.”

Anabel (Pomona College)

“I am interested in working with college aged students and helping them navigate complex issues that I, too, had struggled with in the beginning of my college career. I hope to learn how to better communicate with students in relation to college counseling.”

 

Summit Spotlight with Salesforce.Org

College Forward was the spotlight nonprofit at this year’s Salesforce.org 2017 Higher Education Summit. Weren’t able to attend? We’ve got you covered!

Keep Reading

College Forward | 05.10.17

Summit Spotlight with Salesforce.Org

College Forward was the spotlight nonprofit at this year’s Salesforce.org 2017 Higher Education Summit, leading several sessions on our CoPilot student information system, hosting nonprofit Q&A sessions, and interacting with Summit participants on several student-facing volunteer opportunities.

Weren’t able to attend? We’ve got you covered with photo and video highlights below:

CoFo CEO Austin Buchan offered insight during a panel discussion on bridging gaps between K-12 providers and higher education organizations. The panel was moderated by Katie Mangan of The Chronicle of Higher Education, and other panelists included Christine Bailie (E3 Alliance), Julie Schell (UT-Austin), and Anthony Salerno (KIPP Austin Public Schools).

Conference attendees also participated in volunteer opportunities with College Forward students and coaches, offering “speed networking”, writing graduation cards, and creating commencement celebration bags for graduating college seniors:

 

For more information on Salesforce.org or the Higher Education Summit, visit http://www.salesforce.org/highered/he-summit-17.

Investing in Student Success

Six local investors are supporting CoFo’s CoPilot information system with a $200,000 social impact loan aimed at sharing knowledge and increasing student success. Read on to learn more!

Keep Reading

College Forward | 04.18.17

Investing in Student Success

CoFo Receives $200k Social Impact Loan from Local Investors

AUSTIN — College Forward, an Austin-based nonprofit aimed at increasing postsecondary success for low-income and first-generation college students, is thrilled to announce a social impact loan of $200,000 from six local Austin investors. The investment will support the expansion of CoPilot, College Forward’s in-house student information system.

With an ultimate goal of increasing success for an additional 300,000 students nationwide, the investment will be used to grow CoPilot through increased partnerships with college success organizations. Built on a cloud-based Salesforce platform, CoPilot allows educators and advisors to analyze student information in order to make timely, data-driven interventions that help keep students on the path to college success.

The investment has already allowed College Forward to expand the CoPilot team to meet growing demand, and secure contracts with ten new organizations serving a combined total of 25,000 low-income students. Over the course of four years, College Forward aims to generate dozens of new CoPilot partners and over $3 million in revenue, which will be reinvested into core programs.

“After a decade of research and evaluation CoPilot has emerged as a premier tool for college success organizations, and a successful earned income initiative for College Forward,” said College Forward CEO Austin Buchan. “We are excited to bring our efforts to scale and to leverage this innovative funding tool to help further our mission of expanding college and career success for 300,000 underserved students across the country.”

The investment is one of the first of its kind in Austin, and an example of emerging philanthropy methods that generate both financial returns and social benefits. Through the model, investors can have a meaningful and immediate impact on a local nonprofit, while creating an opportunity for capital to be reinvested in the community. In this way, a single investment can repeatedly facilitate positive social change.

Investors in the project include Dan and Lisa Graham (Notley Ventures), Clayton and Carly Christopher (CAVU Venture Partners), John Thornborrow (Austin Impact Capital), Eric Stumberg, the Aragona Family Foundation, and the Austin Community Foundation.

“Given CoPilot’s previous record of success, we were thrilled by the chance to help College Forward create a sustainable and scalable funding solution,” said Dan Graham of Notley Ventures. “We’re eager to support organizations seeking innovative funding models, and our hope is that more nonprofits start to explore impact investments as a way of amplifying their missions.”

CoPilot is already making a difference for college success organizations across the nation, with 29 partner agencies serving over 178,000 students. One success was highlighted during Austin’s 2017 SXSWedu festival, where College Forward and partner tnAchieves presented a case study of CoPilot’s impact on Tennessee’s statewide tuition-free community college initiative, Tennessee Promise.

About College Forward

College Forward is a college success organization that specializes in coaching low-income and first-generation students to and through college. Through strategic partnerships, innovative technology, and students-first policy initiatives, College Forward aims to reshape the higher education experience for underserved students across the nation. Since its founding in 2003, College Forward has grown from a cohort of 30 high school students to an organization serving over 8,000 high school and college students.

Celebrating Our AmeriCorps Members!

To celebrate AmeriCorps Week we featured the faces and voices of our coaches, who work tirelessly to support our students in classrooms and on campuses. Read on to learn more!

Keep Reading

College Forward | 03.21.17

Celebrating Our AmeriCorps Members!

To celebrate AmeriCorps Week we featured the faces and voices of our coaches, who work tirelessly to support students in classrooms and on campuses across Texas. Why do they serve? What’s their favorite part of the job? And what would they tell new AmeriCorps members? Read below to find out!

 

Filing for Federal Aid Without the DRT

Filing for Federal College Aid Without an I.R.S. Shortcut

Keep Reading

College Forward | 03.15.17

Filing for Federal Aid Without the DRT

The recent IRS Data Retrieval Tool outage makes filing the FAFSA more complicated for students and families. Here’s how you can file while it’s down:

Filing for Federal College Aid Without an I.R.S. Shortcut

CoFo Receives Salesforce “Force for Change” Grant

CoFo is thrilled to announce a $425,000 “Force for Change” grant from Salesforce.org to support the development of a mobile smartphone app that will help students connect with college resources and mentors.

Keep Reading

College Forward | 03.01.17

CoFo Receives Salesforce “Force for Change” Grant

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 5.42.36 PM

The donation will provide students with on-demand technology that helps them access and succeed in college

AUSTIN MARCH 1, 2017 – College Forward is thrilled to announce a “Force for Change” grant from Salesforce.org, the philanthropic arm of Salesforce, to support the development of an open-source mobile smartphone application that connects students with college resources and a network of mentors, with a primary goal of increasing graduation rates for underserved students across Texas and the nation.

As the number of college hopefuls grows year by year, so does students’ need for accurate, timely, and actionable information. The mobile app will convert College Forward’s college success curriculum and milestones — already used by the over 8,000 students currently enrolled in the organization’s programs — into a user-friendly and technology-friendly format, putting college expertise directly into the hands of students. In addition, students will be connected to near-peer mentors offering personalized advice and problem-solving assistance as they pursue their higher education goals.

The “Force for Change” grant will fund the design, development, and deployment of the app, which is slated to be available to the public by December 2017. “By leveraging our deep knowledge of college students’ challenges with the Salesforce platform, College Forward aims to create a game-changing solution that truly levels the playing field for underserved students,” said Austin Buchan, College Forward CEO. “With this mobile app, every student who is motivated to go to college will have access to the support they need to get there, stay there, and be successful.”

“Our goal is to help nonprofits and educational institutions better serve their communities and deliver on their mission,” said Ebony Frelix, SVP of Philanthropy & Engagement at Salesforce.org. “By supporting College Forward’s mission to empower more students to complete college we hope to accelerate change and create a better tomorrow for the next generation.”

The work builds upon the success of College Forward’s “CoPilot” student information system, also built on the Salesforce platform and serving over 156,000 students in 17 states and 3 countries.

College Forward was one of seven organizations to receive a Salesforce.org grant, selected from hundreds of proposals submitted from around the world.

About College Forward

College Forward is an Austin-based college success nonprofit organization that coaches underserved, motivated students to achieve the benefits of higher education and a college degree. Since 2003 College Forward has built and delivered near-peer solutions that produce measurable gains in college access and success: 99% of College Forward students apply and are accepted to institutions of higher education and 49% graduate in six years – more than five times the rate of their demographic peers. Over the past 14 years, College Forward has trained over 1,000 coaches to successfully mentor over 10,000 first-generation, low-income students. To date the organization has celebrated over 610 college graduations.

About Salesforce.org

Salesforce.org is a nonprofit social enterprise with a mission to empower its community of stakeholders to accelerate impact in a whole new way. It impacts thousands of organizations and the millions of people they serve by delivering the world’s best nonprofit and educational technology solutions at affordable rates. It also inspires employee giving by matching their donations and driving volunteer engagement in the community. And it leverages a unique self-sustaining model to generously re-invest the revenue generated back into the community through strategic grants focused on education and workforce development.

Since 1999, Salesforce technology has powered more than 30,000 nonprofit and education institutions; Salesforce and its philanthropic entities have provided more than $137 million in grants; and Salesforce employees have logged more than 1.8 million volunteer hours globally.

College Forward to Present at 2017 SXSWedu Festival

CoFo is honored to have TWO presentations in this year’s SXSWedu festival, March 6-9 in Austin. Join CEO Austin Buchan and CoPilot Director Ashley Suhler as they share their expertise!

Keep Reading

College Forward | 02.20.17

College Forward to Present at 2017 SXSWedu Festival

Wristbands and badges and showcases – oh my! SXSWedu is just around the corner, and College Forward is honored to have TWO presentations featured in this year’s festival, March 6-9 in Austin.

SeeYouAtEdu7_facebook

Join College Forward CEO Austin Buchan on Tuesday, March 7 for “A Tale of Two Cities in Central Texas”, an exploration of educational and economic pathways out of poverty. A description of the session is below:

“Hosted by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation: By reading the news, you might think that Central Texas is a booming, affluent metropolis. But the reality is that four of five counties in the area have higher rates of poverty than both the state of Texas and national averages across the country. So how do we solve for this? We are focusing on several paths out of poverty for our community 1. Bridging academic and non-academic issues for our children 2. defining pipelines to career readiness so students are ready to enter the workforce and 3. understanding and acting upon the data to make the greatest impact. Hear about how our growing city is at the forefront of solving these problems, and how we’re doing it.”

Buchan will be joined on the panel by Matt Kouri of Mission Capital, Susan McDowell of Lifeworks, and Matt Williams of Goodwill Central Texas.

On Wednesday, March 8 CoPilot Director Ashley Suhler will present at the Higher Ed Hub, sharing lessons learned from CoFo’s partnership with tnAchieves in “Keeping the Promise of Tuition-Free College.” The panel will discuss how the ed tech and nonprofit sectors have collaborated to implement the Tennessee Promise, one of the nation’s first statewide tuition-free community college programs. Suhler will co-present with representatives from tnAchieves and The Acceleration Agency.


About SXSWedu
®
The SXSWedu Conference & Festival fosters innovation in learning by hosting a diverse and energetic community of stakeholders across a variety of backgrounds in education. The annual four-day event affords registrants open access to engaging sessions, immersive workshops, interactive learning experiences, film screenings, early-stage startups, business opportunities and networking. Through collaboration, creativity and social action, SXSWedu empowers its global community to Connect. Discover. Impact. SXSWedu is a component of the South by Southwest® family of conferences and festivals. Join the passionate and innovative community at SXSWedu, March 6-9, 2017 in Austin, Texas.

For more information, please visit http://sxswedu.com.

 

Fixing the FAFSA in Washington DC

CoFo shared student FAFSA stories and experiences as part of a mission to simplify federal aid for students and families – read on to learn more!

Keep Reading

College Forward | 02.17.17

Fixing the FAFSA in Washington DC

For most students preparing for college, navigating the current Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application is a necessary but often convoluted process. Even with changes intended to speed and simplify the experience — including earlier FAFSA submission deadlines and the incorporation of prior-prior year tax data — the complexity and length of the application often results in errors and low completion rates, with over $24 billion going unclaimed in federal aid each year.

For this reason College Forward, in partnership with the National College Access Network (NCAN) and its member organizations around the country, has participated in a national push to simplify the FAFSA and help more students receive the aid they need to succeed.

In early February 2017 College Forward joined NCAN policy council members in several days of FAFSA advocacy. After a morning summit that included a presentation of NCAN’s latest report, “Half the FAFSA: Cutting the Red Tape to Postsecondary Student Aid” and a panel discussion with students from around the country, NCAN policy council members met with Congressional offices to share student stories and experiences regarding federal financial aid. On behalf of students in the Lone Star State, College Forward visited the offices of U.S. Senator John Cornyn and U.S. Representatives Joaquin Castro, Lloyd Doggett, Will Hurd, and John Ratcliffe.

 

For more information on NCAN’s FAFSA simplification efforts and proposals, visit www.collegeaccess.org/fixfafsa.

Colleges Discover the Rural Student

A recent New York Times article examines the unique challenges of rural students, featuring voices of students from across the nation and words from CoFO CEO Austin Buchan. 

Colleges Discover the Rural Student

Keep Reading

College Forward | 01.31.17

Colleges Discover the Rural Student

A recent New York Times article examines the unique challenges of rural students, featuring the voices of students from across the nation and words from CoFo CEO Austin Buchan.

Rural students remain less likely to enroll in college, less likely to attend four-year colleges, and more likely to “under-match” when selecting schools — making support and guidance critical in these regions. College Forward is proud to serve over 1800 students at our partner sites in rural West and East Texas, and to help draw attention to this important issue.

Hear more from rural students here:

Colleges Discover the Rural Student

CoFo Highlighted in ‘Journal of College Access’

The latest issue of the Journal of College Access (JCA) featured reflections from Reach Higher’s Eric Waldo and former Secretary of Education John King Jr., as well as a shout-out for CoFo’s Success Partnerships program.

Keep Reading

College Forward | 01.30.17

CoFo Highlighted in ‘Journal of College Access’

The latest issue of the Journal of College Access (JCA) featured reflections from Reach Higher’s Eric Waldo and former Secretary of Education John King Jr., as well as a shout-out for CoFo’s Success Partnerships program.

Many thanks to the Kresge Foundation for their continued support of College Forward students. Read more below:

http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1043&context=jca

 

Vote for CoFo in the CultureMap Charity Challenge!

College Forward is competing in the CultureMap Charity Challenge – vote for us today and every day until January 18 and help us share our mission!

Keep Reading

College Forward | 01.12.17

Vote for CoFo in the CultureMap Charity Challenge!

 

ATX2

College Forward is competing in the CultureMap Charity Challenge – vote for us today and every day until January 18 and help us share our mission! Winners receive a $10,000 advertising package.

Vote below – you only need an email address!

http://austin.culturemap.com/poll/vote-now-for-culturemap-austin-2017-charity-partner/

 

 

 

 

 

Protected: CoFo’s Online Application is OPEN — Join Us Today!

Did you know that you can earn one million dollars more in your lifetime just by earning a college degree? If you’re a student interested in these and more opportunities, sign up for the College Forward program today using our online application!

Keep Reading

College Forward | 11.15.16

Protected: CoFo’s Online Application is OPEN — Join Us Today!

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

A Message from Our CEO

After 14 years of leadership and service, College Forward CEO and co-founder Lisa Fielder has announced her retirement at the end of the year. To read her words to the College Forward community, please click here.

Keep Reading

College Forward | 10.18.16

A Message from Our CEO

HiRes-Lisa_Fielder-0033-Edit

Dearest Friends of CoFo,

Fourteen years ago, Doreen Wise and I cooked up a crazy scheme at my kitchen table. Blessed equally with bravado and ignorance, in early 2003 we blithely filed the paperwork to create College Forward.

What a ride it’s been! Over the years our little nonprofit grew to serve more than 8,000 young people and became a national leader in college services for low-income students. We’ve cheered at hundreds of college graduations. We’re honored by close relationships with many of America’s most innovative educational and philanthropic organizations. CoFo college graduates advocate for legislation in Austin and Washington, D.C. We partner with the White House on three educational initiatives. And College Forward is just hitting its stride! We’re approached almost daily about new opportunities; our challenge now is to choose which of those will achieve the greatest good for the students we care most about.

But my part of this glorious journey is nearing its end. I dearly love College Forward, our students, and our extraordinary band of co-conspirators, but the time, focus, and business acumen required to take CoFo into the future exceed my inner beach bum’s energy and attention span. On January 1, 2017, I’m handing the reins over to Austin Buchan and retiring for good. Austin and I have worked closely with CoFo’s Board of Directors for three years to plan and execute a careful, logical, collaborative transition, and we believe we’ve set a new standard for doing it right.

Austin Buchan joined College Forward in 2010 to head college completion. A year later, he led the development of our groundbreaking CoPilot student information system, which already reaches 156,000 students in 17 states. His strategic thinking and strong business skills earned a promotion to Chief of Staff in 2013 and to Executive Director in 2015. Austin has adroitly launched successful state and national advocacy campaigns and established two self-sustaining social enterprises. Last month he received the National College Access Network’s coveted “Executive Leadership Award of Excellence” for his work advancing our field. With the support of CoFo’s Leadership Team, Austin has effectively led the organization since July 2015, freeing me to focus on partnership development. He’s a rock star.

Austin is surrounded by an equally-talented team whose average tenure at CoFo exceeds 5.25 years: Scott Del Rossi, Charlie Herrmann, Monica Durham, Leigh Ridge, Rip Rowan, Carl Searles, and Cameron Vanzura. The Board has readied this group for leadership with extraordinary care, close mentoring, and high-quality training; they and their committed staff have time and time again met and exceeded every challenge. The Board and I have complete confidence in their abilities and their leadership.

College Forward is also lucky to have an entrepreneurial and endlessly supportive Board of Directors. They collaborate closely with the staff to define policy and strategy. With a wealth of experience in business, education, and nonprofits, they’re always available to brainstorm an idea or give advice about a thorny problem. Just last week, I was privileged to witness CoFo Board Chair Dennis Cavner receive the Governor’s Lone Star Achievement Award, the state’s highest honor, from the Governor of Texas.

The thousand souls who have come together to help build this organization are the best, most caring, most generous people I’ll ever know. The entire Board, Austin, CoFo’s staff, and I are enormously grateful for the contributions of those who have helped build or guide College Forward since 2002. Knowing you, working with you, and having your friendship has been the greatest privilege of my life.

  • To our students: thank you for inspiring me every day. I’m embarrassingly proud of you.
  • To our donors and grantors: I’m humbled and grateful for your trust, support, and advice.
  • To our partners: working with you and for you is a great source of joy and pride.
  • To our AmeriCorps members and volunteers: OMG, look what you’ve built!!
  • To our Board of Directors: y’all are way, way better than Harvard Biz School.
  • To our hardworking staff: you’re the bomb! Thank you for the daily miracles.
  • To Doreen: you’re the very, very greatest BFF in the history of the world.
  • To Austin and CoFo’s Leadership Team: y’all got this! Go forth and do good.
  • To everyone: as of January 1 I’ll be free for happy hour almost every day. Hit me up!

With respect, gratitude, and love,

Lisa Signature - No Last Name

Dennis Cavner, College Forward Board Chair, Wins Governor’s Lone Star Achievement Award

CoFo Board Chair Dennis Cavner received the 2016 Governor’s Lone Star Achievement Award, honoring his dedication to community service and volunteer work. The award was presented at the 2016 Governor’s Volunteer Awards by Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott and the OneStar Foundation.

Keep Reading

College Forward | 10.11.16

Dennis Cavner, College Forward Board Chair, Wins Governor’s Lone Star Achievement Award

Seal-of-Texas OneStar-Foundation-Logo

We’re thrilled to announce that Dennis Cavner, College Forward Board Chair, received the 2016 Governor’s Lone Star Achievement Award, honoring his dedication to building community across Texas. The award was presented by Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott, Honorary Chair of the 2016 Governor’s Volunteer Awards, and the OneStar Foundation in a Monday evening ceremony at the Governor’s Mansion. In its 33rd year, the award recognizes the exemplary service of an individual who has volunteered for a minimum of 15 years and done significant work to create systems change across the state.

Born in Athens, Texas — “The Black-Eyed Pea Capital of the World” — Dennis’s commitment to service has spanned several decades, impacting communities across Texas and beyond. In 1999, he helped create a “Founder’s Circle” of individuals who pledged $9 million of social venture capital to launch an organization today recognized around the world as LIVESTRONG.

In 2010 Dennis co-founded Innovation+, a nonprofit social venture group whose goal was to help Central Texas’ most promising nonprofits achieve transformational scale. Three years later, Dennis led a merger with Greenlights for Nonprofit Success, renamed Mission Capital. Under his leadership, Mission Capital has helped Austin nonprofit organizations raise more than $15 million in growth capital, develop sustainable social enterprises, and solve community problems at home and across the state.

Dennis Cavner College ForwardDennis has served as College Forward Board Chair since 2010, where he has been instrumental in shaping organizational vision and strategy. Under his leadership, College Forward’s mission has shifted from merely scaling programs to scaling impact — expanding community and college partnerships, leveraging innovative technologies, and sharing programmatic solutions with educational organizations across the nation. The organization now directly serves over 6,000 first-generation and low-income college students, with an additional 140,000 impacted through its student information system, CoPilot.

One of the most exciting fulfillments of Dennis’ extraordinary vision has been the impact of “human capital” on nonprofit organizations. By engaging successful business people with deep expertise — who can help nonprofits develop and launch sustainable social enterprises — Dennis has contributed assets far more valuable than mere financial. Without exception, his leadership and indefatigable work on their behalf has enabled these organizations to make rapid, broad improvements or expansions in the services they deliver to underserved communities.

Dennis received the Lone Star Achievement Award at the Governor’s Volunteer Awards ceremony on Monday evening, where an additional ten individuals and organizations were recognized for their service. “These eleven awardees are doing amazing things to help their fellow Texans succeed. Their example is so inspiring,” the First Lady Cecilia Abbott said. “They are some of Texas’s most dedicated volunteers, and I am honored to join in this celebration of their amazing contributions to their fellow Texans.”

To learn about other awardees, please visit the website of the Office of the Texas Governor.

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.

Keep Reading

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!

 

NewCo Session: From Local Nonprofit to EdTech Leader

Register to Attend College Forward joins Austin NewCo Conference that connects smart audiences to meaningful stories. Executive Director Austin Buchan discusses how College Forward has transformed from a local Austin nonprofit to a nationally recognized EdTech thought leader. Wednesday, July 27th at 2:00pm    Get tickets! Join us and the other 90+ innovative Austin companies at NewCo 2016! We…

Keep Reading

College Forward | 06.28.16

NewCo Session: From Local Nonprofit to EdTech Leader

Register to Attend

ED Austin Buchan
College Forward joins Austin NewCo Conference that connects smart audiences to meaningful stories. Executive Director Austin Buchan discusses how College Forward has transformed from a local Austin nonprofit to a nationally recognized EdTech thought leader.

Wednesday, July 27th at 2:00pm 

 
Get tickets! Join us and the other 90+ innovative Austin companies at NewCo 2016! We look forward to seeing you at our office.

 

Map

College Forward Map


 

Technology at a Glance

CoPilot – Salesforce AppExchange
Success Partnerships Intro Video
Student Portal – Mobile Application
Clinton Global Initiative – Commitment
 

Clinton Global Initiative 2016

College Forward is turning ideas into action with its 2016 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America Commitment to Action. Over the next three years College Forward pledges to expand its Success Partnerships program, partnering with two-year and four-year higher education institutions across the state. Read on to learn more and follow Executive Director Austin Buchan at CGI America Annual Meeting in Atlanta.

Keep Reading

College Forward | 06.13.16

Clinton Global Initiative 2016

Clinton Global Initiative

College Forward Launches Clinton Global Initiative Commitment,
Pledges to Expand Innovative Programs to Increase Student Success

AUSTIN, Texas – June 13, 2016 – College Forward, an Austin nonprofit, is turning ideas into action. With its 2016 Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America Commitment to Action, the organization has outlined a multi-year project that will increase college degree attainment for students across Texas. Over the next three years, College Forward will expand its impactful Success Partnerships program, partnering with two-year and four-year higher education institutions to deliver culturally-relevant and individualized academic, financial, and socio-emotional mentoring to the state’s most under-resourced students. College Forward will also deliver tools, training, and technology solutions to partner institutions, enabling them to adopt College Forward’s mentoring expertise for students in need.

By fully integrating with a partnering institution’s staff, faculty, and administration, Success Partnerships strengthens existing retention strategies while also encouraging a powerful culture of student success. Success Partnership institutions have reported significant increases in performance and persistence.

College Forward will triple the number of partnerships across Texas and provide critical services to more than 7,400 additional first-generation and low-income college students.

The Commitment to Action comes amid recent state and national calls to increase college persistence and completion rates, especially for the most challenged students. Despite efforts to boost degree attainment nationally, 46% of students who enroll in college do not graduate, and college completion rates vary by income: whereas 77% of students from the highest income quartile obtain bachelor’s degrees, only 9% of students from the lowest income quartile achieve similar results.

“It is an enormous honor to partner with CGI and participate in this important initiative to advance postsecondary success for first-generation and low-income college students. College Forward is thrilled to make this commitment and leverage thirteen years of experience to advance student success on a much larger scale,” said College Forward Executive Director, Austin Buchan. Buchan will join President Bill Clinton and nearly 1000 cross-sector leaders at the CGI Annual Meeting in Atlanta over the next two days to discuss and develop collaborative solutions to the most pressing global issues.

Through its commitment to scale Success Partnerships, College Forward promises to significantly accelerate the development of a national higher education system that is fully equipped to serve every student, regardless of economic or family background.


About College Forward
Founded in 2003, College Forward is a Texas-based college success organization. With a single goal — a postsecondary credential for every student — College Forward provides intensive mentoring for low-income and first-generation students. The organization serves more than 6,000 students in 18 high schools in Austin and Houston, and more than 120 colleges and universities across the nation. For 13 years, College Forward has taken an experimental, student-focused approach to addressing persistent problems in student achievement, garnering national acclaim for program outcomes: College Forward students enter higher education at twice the statewide average and earn degrees at more than five times the rate of their economically disadvantaged peers. College Forward is a proud AmeriCorps Texas program.

About Clinton Global Initiative America
Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) America brings together leaders from the business, philanthropic, nonprofit, and government sectors to develop solutions that encourage economic growth, support long-term competitiveness, and increase social mobility in the United States. CGI America’s annual convening is designed to be a working meeting that promotes collaboration. Each CGI America participant makes a Commitment to Action: a new, specific, and measurable plan that supports increased economic growth and opportunity. To date, CGI America participants have made more than 500 commitments, which have improved the lives of nearly 2.4 million people.

 

Austin Buchan is available for interview.

 

Media Contacts:
Lindsey Wolf
lwolf@collegeforward.org
(512) 681-0270

Sammantha Johnson
sjohnson@collegeforward.org
(512) 681-0270

CoFo Spotlight: Success Partnerships

College Forward Success Partnerships staff Scott Del Rossi and Tara Hall talk about surprises, challenges, and student success at Concordia University and Sul Ross State University. Read on to learn more about what’s in store for SP!

Keep Reading

College Forward | 06.02.16

CoFo Spotlight: Success Partnerships

20160108-Tara and Scott

Success Partnership Directors:

Tara Hall – Associate Director of Program Design and Evaluation

Scott Del Rossi – Director of Program Design and Evaluation

We asked about:

  • this year’s aha moments

  • next year’s expectations

  • Why they love doing what they do

What has surprised you most this year about Success Partnerships?

Scott: All college partners have such a deep care for student success. They want to become co-creators with the students. I realized that the students we’ve worked with are the same as our organic students – motivated to better their lives to go to college. As students began to gravitate to us, they began sharing their enthusiasm for the new experience.

Tara: The spirit of collaboration. The willingness to share best practices and ideas to learn from each other. We were embraced wholeheartedly by the staff and faculty. It enabled us to go beyond our full services to connect with amazing students. It‘s rare that an organization truly lives, breathes and operates with their values in mind.

What’s coming next year for the program?

Scott: I‘m excited to continue growing the program which translates to more students, staff, and partnerships. Ultimately, evolve and go deeper to understand the problem from different perspectives.

Tara: I‘m excited to bring on entrepreneurial coaches, who can take charge on campus, and just wanna get stuff done. This year, we had great coaches to set the foundation for next year’s coaches. We’re looking for people who care about students, appreciate transparency, and have a willingness pursuit for student engagement.

Why do you like doing what you do?

Scott: Easy. I’ve been with the program and helped many students. I believe every student should receive that support. It’s great working with a passionate group of folks, who are likeminded…co-conspirators, so to speak. Folks who want to do the same thing! And well…students love my jokes.

Tara: I spent my whole career trying to help develop really smart and talented students. It’s critical to create a long lasting impact with students, community and the economy. Also, it’s invigorating being around people who commit a year to servicing others. It’s a reminder how motivated, mobilized people can truthfully make things happen for those who deserve it.

 

Stay connected with us on social media to find more stories like Scott and Tara’s experience. Or, contact HR Assistant, Sunny Tompkins for more information about College Forward Jobs – stompkins@collegeforward.org.

 


Success Partnerships Concordia coach shares the differences in student interaction with the Alpine team and his adventurous visit.

Sul Ross State University

Success Partnership Concordia Coach Shares his Sul Ross State University Visit:

Mike Cavanagh – Concordia Completion Coach

May 23, 2016

 

We asked about:

  • his time at SRSU

  • SRSU coach’s role

The Alpine team takes time to get to know and work with their students in person. The biggest difference between our team and the Alpine teams work is the amount of student interaction. Alpine coaches like Vicky Mayans work with both college and high school students. The CoFo Access and Completion programs are spread throughout the area among three other coaches. That’s definitely more interaction than my student load. I applaud the Alpine team for their hard work and dedication. It was a blast hiking around the Davis Mountains and exploring the town’s murals. I’m excited for the work Vicky and the team coaches have done in their first year!

 

Stay connected with us on social media to find more stories like Mike’s experience. Or, contact HR Assistant, Sunny Tompkins for more information about College Forward Jobs – stompkins@collegeforward.org.

Solving the Problem: College Forward’s 2014-2015 Annual Report

College Forward is pleased to share our 2014-2015 Annual Reporta celebration of the tremendous accomplishments of the 5,037 students who received our coaching and mentoring services during the 2014-2015 academic year.

Keep Reading

College Forward | 05.08.16

Solving the Problem: College Forward’s 2014-2015 Annual Report

College Forward is pleased to share our 2014-2015 Annual Report.

This report is a celebration of the tremendous accomplishments of the 5,037 students who received our coaching and mentoring services during the 2014-2015 academic year.

The report also offers an important introduction to the bold initiatives that will expand our impact so that every student, regardless of their background, can experience the benefits of higher education.

Read the Annual Report here!

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!

Keep Reading

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.

Spotlight on CoFo Coaches

This month we’re featuring two college completion coaches from our Austin and Houston offices — Haley Perko and Cortland Gilliam! To learn more about our coaches, be sure to check out our CoFo Coach Tumblr

Keep Reading

College Forward | 02.22.16

Spotlight on CoFo Coaches

 

This month we’re featuring two college completion coaches from our Austin and Houston offices — Haley and Cortland! To learn more about our coaches, be sure to check out our CoFo Coach Tumblr!

12036767_159641647715656_2705775862044753356_n

Haley Perko
College Completion Coach – Austin
Hometown: San Diego, CA

Fun Facts: Haley loves to explore nature and hike, and is working hard to reach 10,000 steps on her new FitBit. (It’s not as easy as you would think…) She also loves to make things for people by knitting or crocheting.

“I love working with my students. They may not always need help from me in the moment, but it is always a joy to talk to them and learn about their lives and everything that’s going on.”

———–

20160208_115138

Cortland Gilliam
College Completion Coach – Houston
Hometown: Springfield, VA

Fun Facts: Cortland has never lived in one place for longer than 4 years, and he’s never been fishing!

“My goals for the remainder of my term with CoFo are to increase the percentage of successful contacts I make. I would also like to increase the student turnout at my campus visits to my commuter schools like Lone Star College and University of Houston-Downtown.”

For more about Cortland (and many of our other fabulous coaches!) check out our Tumblr:
http://collegeforward.tumblr.com/

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!

Keep Reading

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!

20150827_183404
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.”

Meet Our Superstar Coaches!

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’re featuring THREE CoFo coaches — Carolyn Widen, Derek Hanson, and Charlene Warnock!

Keep Reading

College Forward | 11.17.15

Meet Our Superstar Coaches!

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

Carolyn Widen
Carolyn Widen

College Access Coach – Austin
Hometown: San Antonio, TX
College: University of Texas-Austin

Fun Fact: Carolyn interned for Communities in Schools during her final year at UT, working with refugee high school students. An article she wrote was featured in the Interfaith Action of Central Texas’s newsletter last year!

Carolyn’s Impact: Carolyn exemplifies every one of College Forward’s values – most importantly, in her dedication to each of her students. She is steadfast in her desire to learn more about how to best serve students, becoming more knowledgeable about college access and systemic education issues that affect the students she works with. Using her social work background and case management skills, she provides individualized coaching and encouragement for her high school students. Thank you, Carolyn!

Throughout college I studied various social justice issues, and education seems to be one of the main ways that people, families, and generations are able to get out of the cycle of poverty. Knowledge really is Power! I want to make sure my students have many options available to them.”

11845168_144571735880528_8570933282489334580_o
Derek Hanson
College Completion Coach – Austin

Hometown: Oskaloosa, KS
College: University of Kansas

Fun Fact:
 Derek once ran across the parking lot of a Dollar General to help snag a stranger’s runaway “Get Well Soon” balloon, saving the day. What a hero!

Derek’s Impact: Derek is an exceptional coach who truly goes above and beyond in all of his work with students. It is evident at campus visits that he has cultivated incredible relationships with his students at Texas State, and he has encouraged his students to utilize all of the resources available to them at their respective universities. He even coached one of his freshman students through solidifying an internship at the Texas State Capitol! His intelligence, passion, and excellent sense of humor make him a valuable asset to the CoFo team – thanks, Derek!

“Last year, as a high school teacher, I realized that our education system is sending many of our students off to college without adequate academic skills and without a firm sense of belonging. I chose College Forward to have a chance to work one-on-one with students most in need of these assets, to help them persist through the challenges they will meet in college, all the way to graduation. I hope to help my students gain academic skills, like strong, persuasive writing; I want my freshmen to begin to grasp how to thrive in college, so they need less of my help as they become better advocates for themselves; I want my students to succeed in their classes and persevere through struggles; and I hope to provide positive, timely wisdom in their lives.”

charlene
Charlene Warnock
College Completion Coach – Austin
Hometown: Asheville, NC
College: University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill

Fun Facts: Charlene was born in North Carolina and grew up in several states before returning to NC for college; because of this, she has perfected and enjoys using many regional accents. Even more impressive, she can carry conversations in Chinese AND French.

Charlene’s Impact: Charlene is both coach and cheerleader, working diligently to build meaningful relationships with the students she serves and the coaches and staff members with whom she works. Her inquisitive disposition and passion drive her to ‘obsess about the problem’ and find effective solutions—her hard work on the CoPilot Committee has already helped CoFo improve its data-tracking. Her cheerful and positive attitude create a great environment, and we are lucky to have her on the team! Thanks, Charlene!

“I enjoy talking with my students and listening to their stories. I truly believe in College Forward’s mission and I love working with others who have the same passion for this work!”

White House: National Call for Commitments to Action

In October 2014, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics launched a Year of Action, and with it a national call for Commitments to Action in honor of its 25th anniversary. In the spirit of what President Obama calls a “shared responsibility,” the Initiative challenged the public and private sectors to make meaningful…

Keep Reading

College Forward | 10.15.15

White House: National Call for Commitments to Action

In October 2014, the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics launched a Year of Action, and with it a national call for Commitments to Action in honor of its 25th anniversary. In the spirit of what President Obama calls a “shared responsibility,” the Initiative challenged the public and private sectors to make meaningful contributions that expand opportunity and increase educational outcomes in the Hispanic community.

On October 15, 2015, at the culmination of the 2015 Hispanic Heritage Month, President Obama is announcing 150 Commitments to Action, with a collective investment of nearly $340 million, that will build on and accelerate federal, state, and local investments in high-quality education, from cradle-to-career for the nation’s Hispanic community.

College Forward has committed more than $3 million in support of expanding our existing programs and sharing our proven resources. Over the next three years College Forward will provide college access and success services to more than 16,900 high school students and 7,900 college students. Through productive partnerships and resource-sharing, we will leverage our expertise to dramatically improve educational outcomes for Hispanic students in Texas and beyond.

“These commitments will bring critical resources to Latino students and families across this country, are examples of meaningful investments being made in support of the largest, youngest and arguably the fastest growing minority community in the country and will help fulfill America’s future,” says Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director for the White House initiative. College Forward is proud to be among the organizations that answered this important call to action.

 

To learn more about the Initiative and to view the full list of Commitments to Action visit www.ed.gov/HispanicInitiative.

Please join College Forward in celebrating this important commitment and join the conversation on social media:

Hashtag: #LatinosAchieve

Twitter: @HispanicEd, @CollegeForward

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…

Keep Reading

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.

 

Going the Distance: College Forward Partners with Education First

We are excited to announce our partnership with Education First, an organization founded in Seattle that provides college scholarships to exceptional seniors in 7 U.S. cities at high schools with historically low college application rates. To help these students persist and graduate, College Forward will provide them with our award-winning college success mentoring services. We…

Keep Reading

College Forward | 09.24.15

Going the Distance: College Forward Partners with Education First

We are excited to announce our partnership with Education First, an organization founded in Seattle that provides college scholarships to exceptional seniors in 7 U.S. cities at high schools with historically low college application rates. To help these students persist and graduate, College Forward will provide them with our award-winning college success mentoring services. We are thrilled to work with more students, and partner with other game-changing organizations in an innovative way.

“A college degree versus a high school diploma can mean the difference of at least $1 million earned over a career,” said Chris Bryan, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Education First. “Many of our scholars are the first in their families to go to college. It’s new, unfamiliar and there is always a risk of dropping out. By giving them a personalized coach, we hope to give them the edge they need to earn a college degree.”

College Forward’s goal is to provide ongoing support to students and ensure their every need is met. CoFo is extremely proud to partner with a fellow organization that shares the same vision.

To stay informed about College Forward’s exciting work, connect with us online.

Twitter: @CollegeForward
Facebook: College Forward

 Ef - Award Ceremony

ABOUT EDUCATION FIRST:

The mission of Education First is to provide need-based college scholarships to exceptional seniors attending high schools with historically low percentages of college applicants. By rewarding students with strength of character, a commitment to learning and a vision for their future, the organization’s aim is to invest in individuals who will positively affect their communities. Founded in 1995 in Seattle by recent college graduates, Education First has awarded more than $700,000 to nearly 200 recipients and is active in the following cities: Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Austin and San Diego. A 503(c) organization, it is run primarily by volunteers.

Read more about what this partnership means to Education First

College Forward Recognized Among Most Effective in Nation at Increasing Latino Student Success in College

College Forward added to America’s largest inventory of proven practices for accelerating degree completion among Latinos Hillary Clinton video message marks 10 years of national initiative inspired by her work on Latino higher education issues as First Lady Austin, TX – Elected officials and higher education leaders from across the country come together at the…

Keep Reading

College Forward | 09.22.15

College Forward Recognized Among Most Effective in Nation at Increasing Latino Student Success in College

College Forward added to America’s largest inventory of proven practices for accelerating degree completion among Latinos

Hillary Clinton video message marks 10 years of national initiative inspired by her work on Latino higher education issues as First Lady

Austin, TX – Elected officials and higher education leaders from across the country come together at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., today to announce the 2015 Examples of Excelencia, America’s top programs that increase higher education achievement for Latino students. Excelencia in Education, the non-profit that conceived and runs this national initiative, honored College Forward’s program as a National Finalist among America’s top programs that increase academic opportunities and increase achievement for Latino students.

College Forward was selected from among 265 programs from 30 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia nominated in four categories: associates degree, bachelors degree, graduate degree, and community-based organization.

College Forward is an Austin-based college access and success program whose intensive, culturally-appropriate mentoring propels underserved students to collegiate success. With a goal of building and sharing effective solutions, they collaborate with other respected practitioners across Texas and the U.S. to combine and distill ‘best practices’ into highly-efficient program models, supported by a robust student information system that both drives student outcomes and yields critical data for longitudinal research. College Forward’s goal is to put themselves out of business by 2040” by developing, proving, and systematizing strong mentoring programs and interventions that support low-income and first-generation students throughout the higher education pathway. Since 2003 College Forward has delivered a college access and completion program to Hispanic students that gets results: 99% of College Forward’s students apply to and are accepted to higher education, 90% matriculate within one year of high school graduation, and 45% complete postsecondary education.

“We are honored to be named as a finalist for the Examples of Excelencia initiative,” says College Forward Executive Director Austin Buchan. “We view this important designation as a call to continue our relentless pursuit of our mission to ensure that all underserved, motivated Hispanic students achieve the benefits of higher education and a college degree.”

Examples of Excelencia is the only national initiative to systematically identify and promote evidence-based programs and departments effectively boosting Latino enrollment, performance and graduation. Celebrating its 10th year, Examples of Excelencia was inspired by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton’s 1999 Convening on Latino Youth, a historic, first-ever White House gathering that resulted in the publication, “What Works for Latino Youth.” To mark this year’s anniversary, Clinton produced a special video tribute that premiered during today’s program. Over the past decade, Examples of Excelencia has reviewed more than 1,300 program nominations and recognized over 150 programs across the nation.

Today’s announcement event, Celebraciòn de Excelencia, coincided with the release of the 2015 edition of “What Works for Latino Student Success in Higher Education,” a compendium of all 20 recognized programs along with the evidence of their success. Through this annual process, Excelencia in Education continues to grow America’s largest inventory of programs and strategies that education leaders, policymakers, and others tap into to accelerate degree completion among Latinos.

“As one of this year’s Finalists, College Forward is at the forefront improving higher educational achievement for Latino students and we congratulate them for their current and continued efforts,” said Sarita Brown, President of Excelencia in Education. “By increasing awareness of top programs like this, informing program strategies, and reinforcing investment in what works, Examples of Excelencia is creating new energy and inspiring a network of action-oriented leaders to discover and implement innovations that are effective with Latino and other post-traditional students.”

To download “What Works for Latino Student Success in Higher Education,” which includes detailed information about all of the programs recognized today, visit www.EdExcelencia.org.

“We remain committed to advancing what works to support educators, community leaders, funders, and policymakers to take an asset-based approach to serving Latino students,” said Deborah Santiago, COO and Vice President of Excelencia in Education and author of the publication. “You can count on us to continue inspiring, informing, and supporting the recognition, replication and scale of evidence-based practices that serve Latino students and thus serve the country.”

Examples of Excelencia is presented in collaboration with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The 2015 sponsors are ACT, Comcast NBCUniversal, Telemundo, Univision, DeVry Education Group, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, the Edwin Gould Foundation, the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, and PG&E Corporation.


Excelencia in Education accelerates Latino student success in higher education by promoting Latino student achievement, conducting analysis to inform educational policies, and advancing institutional practices while collaborating with those committed and ready to meet the mission. Launched in 2004 in the nation’s capital, Excelencia is building a network of results-oriented educators and policymakers to address the U.S. economy’s need for a highly educated workforce and engaged civic leadership. For more information, visit: www.EdExcelencia.org.

College Forward Named “Bright Spot in Hispanic Education” By White House Initiative

In recognition of our successful efforts supporting the postsecondary ambitions of native-born, immigrant, and undocumented students, College Forward has been named a “Bright Spot in Hispanic Education” by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. As a Bright Spot, College Forward will be part of a national online catalog that includes over 230…

Keep Reading

College Forward | 09.15.15

College Forward Named “Bright Spot in Hispanic Education” By White House Initiative

In recognition of our successful efforts supporting the postsecondary ambitions of native-born, immigrant, and undocumented students, College Forward has been named a “Bright Spot in Hispanic Education” by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. As a Bright Spot, College Forward will be part of a national online catalog that includes over 230 programs that invest in key education priorities for Hispanics.

Celebrating its 25th year, the White House Initiative seeks to leverage these national Bright Spots to encourage collaboration between stakeholders focused on similar issues in sharing data-driven approaches, promising practices, peer advice, and effective partnerships, ultimately resulting in increased support for the educational attainment of the Hispanic community, from cradle-to-career.

Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director of the Initiative, made the announcement on Tuesday, September 15 in honor of the start of Hispanic Heritage Month. “There has been notable progress in Hispanic educational achievement, and it is due to the efforts of these Bright Spots in Hispanic Education, programs and organizations working throughout the country to help Hispanic students reach their full potential,” said Ceja.

College Forward has built one of the most effective college access and completion programs in the country: 99% of College Forward’s students apply to and are accepted to higher education, 90% matriculate within one year of high school graduation, and we are driving furiously toward a 65% postsecondary completion rate. College Forward’s Hispanic students earn degrees and credentials at five times the rate of Hispanic students in Texas.

To learn more about the Initiative and to view the Bright Spots in Hispanic Education national online catalog visit www.ed.gov/HispanicInitiative. Please join College Forward in celebrating this enormous honor and join the conversation on social media:

Hashtag: #HHM, #LatinosAchieve
Twitter: @HispanicEd, @College Forward

 

ABOUT COLLEGE FORWARD:

College Forward is an Austin, Texas-based college access and college completion program, founded in 2003 to combat a decades-long decline in higher education achievement for low-income students. With a single goal – a postsecondary credential for every student – College Forward provides intensive mentoring for low-income and first-generation students whose education, without our services, would most likely end soon after high school. We currently serve more than 6,000 students from Central, West, and Gulf Coast, Texas, at 18 high schools and more than 115 colleges across the nation.

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…

Keep Reading

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.

College Forward Students are Beating the Odds, Invited to White House

Two CoFo students have been invited to participate in the Beating the Odds Summit, a landmark White House celebration of the achievements of underserved students in higher education. Andrea Alegria and Ruby Rodriguez-Segoviano are in Washington, D.C. with Executive Director Austin Buchan to be recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama and our nation’s education leaders for their outstanding achievements. Follow their updates on Twitter!

Keep Reading

College Forward | 07.20.15

College Forward Students are Beating the Odds, Invited to White House

White-House-Logo

Two College Forward students have been invited to participate in the Beating the Odds Summit, a landmark celebration of the achievements of underserved students in higher education at the White House this week. Andrea Alegria and Ruby Rodriguez-Segoviano will travel to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday with College Forward Executive Director Austin Buchan to be recognized by First Lady Michelle Obama and our nation’s education leaders for their outstanding higher education achievements.

As part of her Reach Higher initiative, First Lady Michelle Obama will welcome more than 130 college-bound students from across the country to participate in the 2015 Beating the Odds Summit. These students are being sponsored by 70 non-profit organizations, and represent a mix of urban, rural, foster, homeless, special needs, and under-represented youth who have overcome substantial obstacles to persist through high school and make it to college. Building on College Forward’s commitment to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment made at the White House College Opportunity Day of Action earlier this year, this event will focus on sharing tools and strategies students can use to successfully transition to college and the resources they will need to persist and complete the next level of their education.

The day-long event will include a panel moderated by E! News host Terrence Jenkins, which will feature First Lady Michelle Obama, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, musical artist Wale, and Manuel Contreras, a rising senior at Brown University and co-founder of 1vyG. Wale will also perform a concert for the students.

Additionally, students will participate in workshops and panels led by the U.S. Department of Education, Google’s Jaime Casap, and other leaders in K-12 and post-secondary education.

Please join us in congratulating Andrea and Ruby on this remarkable achievement, and we invite you to follow their journey this week and join the conversation on social media:

Hashtag: #ReachHigher
Twitter: @FLOTUS, @ReachHigher, @College Forward
Instagram: @MichelleObama, @ReachHigher2020@CollegeForward

Growing Leadership at College Forward

College Forward is THRILLED to announce the promotion of Austin Buchan to the role of Executive Director. Buchan’s responsibilities will expand to include operations across the breadth of College Forward’s mission and strategy.

Keep Reading

College Forward | 07.01.15

Growing Leadership at College Forward

College Forward is THRILLED to announce the promotion of Austin Buchan to the role of Executive Director. Buchan’s responsibilities will expand to include operations across the breadth of College Forward’s mission and strategy. In this new role, Buchan will report to Lisa Fielder, Founder and CEO.

Buchan joined College Forward as a Program Manager in 2010, developing the organization’s collegiate mentoring services. He later spearheaded the development of CoPilot, a Salesforce-based student information system, as a social enterprise. As Executive Director, Buchan will continue to aggressively develop this and other revenue streams.

“Austin Buchan has contributed enormously to College Forward,” said CEO Lisa Fielder. “He’s entrepreneurial, he works hard and smart, and he’s an inspiring leader who can accomplish ‘six impossible things before breakfast.’ I’m excited to see him expand his role as the organization continues to grow and thrive.”

Congratulations, Austin!

Meet Our Latest Coach of the Month!

June’s Coach of the Month is Danica Morgan, one of our AmeriCorps Coaches who returned last fall for a second year of service. Our Access students have benefited from TWO years of Danica’s encouragement and guidance. Thank you Danica and all of our amazing Returners!

Keep Reading

College Forward | 06.22.15

Meet Our Latest Coach of the Month!

Danica M

Danica Morgan
College Access Coach – Austin
Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

Fun Fact: Danica plays semi-professional full-contact women’s football with the Austin Outlaws. Although she took off this season to better serve her students, she plans to try out for the Detroit Dark Angels when she moves back to Michigan in July.

Danica’s Impact: As one of our star returning AmeriCorps Coaches, Danica has gone above and beyond with students this year. Beyond helping her students reach their milestones — 100% of her students have been accepted to college, finalized their resumes, and submitted their FAFSA/TASFA — Danica has done an excellent job of establishing lasting connections with all of her students. As a bonus, many of her students earned scholarships ranging from $500 to $20,000 this year! Thank you Danica for two years of service!

“The best part of my job is working with students! Whether it is in the classroom or one-on-one during lab hours, knowing that students see me as a go-to resource in any situation related to the college application process has pushed me to give no less than 110% every day as their coach… I have learned just as much from my students as they have from me, if not more.”
Danica & Students
Danica (center) poses with fellow CoFo Coach Mark Goodman (bottom left) and several of their students.

Meet Our Coaches of the Month!

Lauren Rex is this month’s featured college coach – read on to find out more about her contributions to College Forward and her students!

Keep Reading

College Forward | 05.19.15

Meet Our Coaches of the Month!

LRex_COTM_05-15 2

Lauren Rex
College Completion Coach – Austin
Hometown: Bowling Green, OH
College: Bowling Green State University

Fun Fact: Lauren loves national parks — Glacier National Park in Montana is her favorite!

Lauren’s Impact: Lauren is a humble and patient coach, and has used these skills when helping many of her students transfer from Austin Community College to 4-year universities. She is also a great leader, organizing the mentor recruitment and interview process for new collegian mentors. She is an excellent addition to the organization, and we are glad to have her on the team. Thanks Lauren!

 

“I like being able to interact with and assist my students who attend [Austin Community College.] Being able to meet up with students at the office or at ACC Highland has helped to build stronger relationships with them… I believe in the near-peer mentoring model that College Forward uses to support our students because having an extra support system while going through college has proven to be very beneficial for the students I work with.”

We Love CoFo Coaches and Mentors!

This month we celebrate Austin Access Coach Josh Newby and Collegian Mentor Melissa Escobar for their accomplishments and contributions to College Forward!

Keep Reading

College Forward | 04.23.15

We Love CoFo Coaches and Mentors!

 IMG_1807 (3) (1)

Josh Newby
College Access Coach – Austin
Hometown: Memphis, TN
College: University of Arkansas

Fun Fact #1: While camping in Big Sur, Josh had a run-in with a mountain lion — the animal circled around his (thin!) tent and roared, making it nearly impossible for Josh to fall asleep for the night. We’re glad you’re okay, Josh!

Fun Fact #2: Josh once gave a program update at an all-staff meeting while HULA-HOOPING the entire time.

Josh’s Impact: Josh is an incredible Coach who constantly looks to grow in his position at College Forward. It is obvious how much his students enjoy his leadership, guidance, and friendship–when you visit his class, you’ll see that his students are constantly laughing and having fun…while still completing all of their college, FAFSA/TASFA, and scholarship applications. Josh is just as involved around the CoFo office, participating in 5 different office workgroups; his efforts ensure that College Forward programs stay strong, efficient, and serve our students effectively!

“[My students] are all such amazing and inspirational young adults. Being able to work with students at such a personal experience continues to be a truly rewarding experience. I am deeply grateful to have been given the opportunity  to be a part of their lives. Some of my favorite student stories have been of first-generation students returning to class from winter break, and telling me how great it was to tell their whole families that they were accepted into college.”


It’s not only our coaches who continue to impress us — our mentors are amazing too!

This month we would like to honor Melissa Escobar for her outstanding work with her mentees at the University of Texas – San Antonio.

unnamed

Melissa takes an extraordinary amount of care and thoughtfulness with her mentees, creating meaningful relationships with each one. She has made plans with each of her students to ensure they are completing their FAFSAs, up to date on assignments and improving on exams. Thank you, Melissa, for your enthusiasm and dedication to being a compassionate and creative mentor!

Meet our CoFo Coach of the Month!

Our Coach of the Month is Kathleen Doll, a fantastic Completion Coach in Austin. Read on to learn more about her contributions to our programs and students!

Keep Reading

College Forward | 03.16.15

Meet our CoFo Coach of the Month!


10574232_271313826403342_263624982741909803_n

Kathleen Doll
College Completion Coach – Austin
Hometown: Aurora, CO

Fun Fact: As a wee tot, Kathleen created a rubber band chain that spanned several blocks! 

Kathleen’s Impact: Kathleen exceeds the expectations set forth for Completion Coaches and strengthens our team and our program everyday with her big brain and big heart. She is smart, curious, and a whole lotta fun – a role model for her team members and students alike. Kathleen has taken leadership roles in both of her AmeriCorps workgroups, and brought in important information on community colleges, student mental health issues, and student outcomes analysis. We are proud and grateful to have her on the team–thanks, Kathleen!

“I firmly believe that quality education is the gateway for enduring change. Thus, College Forward’s dedication to generating equal access to education resonates deeply with me. Daily, I realize that College Forward embodies the right blend of people, passion, resources, and panache to truly impact the educational climate.

During my term of service, I have been astonished by College Forward’s relentless commitment to improving the program’s functionality and impact through critical assessment. Ultimately these efforts aim to enrich the lives of our students, our community, and our world.”

15874452024_df50392cc7_k (1)
Kathleen (left), pictured with fellow coaches and students at the University of Houston.

Amplify Austin – Join Our Cause!


Amplify Austin
is coming up on March 5-6! Join College Forward in ensuring that all Central Texas students receive the support they need to access and complete college!

Keep Reading

College Forward | 02.18.15

Amplify Austin – Join Our Cause!

amplify logoYour Donation Matters


We’re giving CoFo Alumni the chance to become a founding donor of the
first-ever CoFo Student Scholarship: a scholarship for CoFo students created by CoFo alumni.

During Amplify Austin, a 24-hour city-wide giving event, every dollar donated to the scholarship fund by College Forward alumni will be matched with two dollars from College Forward donors. To meet our $3,000 goal, we are asking the CoFo alumni network to raise $1,000.

As a former student, we know that you understand the difficulties our students face. With your donation we can extend these exclusive scholarship opportunities to our motivated students and support their success together. Remember, any donation counts!


Amplify Austin begins at 6pm on March 5 and ends at 6pm on March 6.

Our donors are matching donations during Amplify Austin, so make sure to schedule your donation today and triple your impact!

Schedule your donation today!

 

donate


 

15874878754_271e3a8a0f_oHow Your Contribution Helps:

  • $5+ – Helps fund the first-ever CoFo Student Scholarship
  • $25 – Provides a College Forward workbook and t-shirt for one newly enrolled junior student.

 

Meet Our CoFo Coaches of the Month!

Learn more about our amazing Coaches of the Month — Rachel Van Middlesworth, Taylor Whitehead, and Colin Aiken!

Keep Reading

College Forward | 02.09.15

Meet Our CoFo Coaches of the Month!

Rachel Van Middlesworth
College Completion Coach – Austin
Hometown: Lakeland, FL

Fun Fact: Rachel is a certified archery instructor!

Rachel’s Impact: Rachel excels in building relationships with everyone around her, and her positive energy and spirited communication is contagious. Her passion for College Forward has allowed her to be hugely successful in spearheading new initiatives for her team and the program as a whole — including an office-wide Spanish conversation hour and an “open office” event for our students. Way to go, Rachel!

“I love getting to know my students and having the flexibility to pursue projects that coaches have dreamed up. I enjoy College Forward because I believe in its mission, and I believe that a fun work environment makes for a fun job!”


 

COTM_01.2015_TW

Taylor Whitehead
College Access Coach – Austin
Hometown: Rockwall, TX

Fun Fact: Taylor has a key to the city of Rockwall, Texas!

Taylor’s Impact: Even though she has the largest caseload of the CoFo junior coaches, Taylor’s incredible work ethic and time management have helped her guide her students to some pretty impressive CoFo milestones, including practice ACTs and tons of community service. Taylor is reliable and trustworthy, and a superb advocate for her students and school. Thanks, Taylor — if we had a key to College Forward, we’d give that to you too!

“I love that I get to chance to serve awesome students and see them grow as they get closer to their college goals. This program is dedicated to student success, and that becomes evident right from the start.”


LSC team 009
Colin Aiken
College Completion Coach – Houston

Colin’s Impact: Although Colin started a month later than his fellow coaches, he quickly jumped on board and reached out to his students. Colin has had over 406 successful contacts with his students since the end of September and has formed many close relationships with students. Colin has also been active in helping CoFo establish study groups on the Lone Star North Harris campus. He’s very adaptable and always willing to lend a helping hand when he can! Thanks, Colin!

College Forward Takes to the Texas Capitol

College Forward made a bold move at the opening of the 84th Texas legislative session, introducing policymakers to the people most affected by higher education legislation: Texas students. On Wednesday, January 28th, College Forward graduates descended on the Texas State Capitol to meet with representatives and share their stories of persevering through higher education. 

Keep Reading

College Forward | 01.30.15

College Forward Takes to the Texas Capitol

College Forward graduates get their game faces on at the Texas Capitol.

College Forward graduates get their game faces on at the Texas Capitol.

 

College Forward made a bold move at the opening of the 84th Texas legislative session, introducing policymakers to the people most affected by higher education legislation: Texas students.

College Forward students and graduates descended on the Texas State Capitol on Wednesday, January 28th to meet with representatives from their home districts and share their stories of persevering through higher education. The event was part of CoFo’s “College Matters: Students Speak Up” campaign.

Education reform and higher education policy have been at the top of Texas’ legislative agenda for years. What discussions have too often lacked, however, are the voices of those whose lives are directly impacted by policy decisions. It’s time for a paradigm shift in the education debate. Policy must be informed by the voices and stories of those most knowledgeable about and most passionate about Texas higher education.

College Forward students and alumni have defied the odds. Only 8% of low-income students ever graduate from college in Texas. By contrast, College Forward students, who receive critical mentoring support, are five times more likely to earn a postsecondary credential. The benefits of higher education for low-income students and for the economic future of the state are indisputable. Mentoring makes the difference.

Stay tuned for College Forward updates as the Legislative Session continues!

For more information, contact Lindsey Wolf, CoFo Community Engagement Coordinator, at lwolf@collegeforward.org.

College Forward Celebrates MLK Day of Service

College Forward celebrates MLK Day by supporting local organizations throughout the long weekend. College Forward’s AmeriCorps members will lend support at organizations like Austin Parks Foundation, United Way, Boys and Girls and Club, Urban Roots, YMCA, and more!

Keep Reading

College Forward | 01.18.15

College Forward Celebrates MLK Day of Service

The upcoming commemoration of the MLK Day of Service on Monday, January 19 is an opportunity to remember that history and re-commit ourselves as citizens by volunteering in service to one another. It is also a time to consider how much work still remains to fulfill Dr. King’s dream. President Obama’s ‘United We Serve’ campaign commemorates MLK Day as a National Day of Service.

College Forward will celebrate MLK Day by supporting local organizations throughout the long weekend. College Forward’s AmeriCorps team members will lend support at local organizations like Austin Parks Foundation, United Way, Boys and Girls and Club, Urban Roots, YMCA, and more!

Dr. King once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Against what seemed like impossible odds, Dr. King and scores of his fellow citizens of all races came together and, ultimately, helped bend the moral arc of the universe toward justice.

This weekend, College Forward is proud to remember, celebrate, and serve. Service is a powerful tool for strengthening our communities, but it is only a start. As we work together, we will create economic opportunities by improving education, strengthening health care services, and improving financial literacy. These are central to making our economy work for every American.

Be sure to connect with College Forward on social media for photos and MLK service stories!

Meet Our Superstar Collegian Mentors!

College Forward is excited to announce our Collegian Mentors of the Month! These individuals have gone above and beyond when it comes to representing CoFo on their college campuses and promoting a “pay it forward” attitude with their fellow students.

Keep Reading

College Forward | 12.18.14

Meet Our Superstar Collegian Mentors!

College Forward is excited to announce a new feature, our Collegian Mentors of the Month! These individuals have gone above and beyond when it comes to representing CoFo on their college campuses and promoting a “pay it forward” attitude with their fellow students. Congratulations to all of our Collegian Mentors!

To find out more about our Collegian Mentor program, click here!

September: Alexzandra Goodwin

Sept - Alexzandra Goodwin

Alexzandra has fostered community among her mentees at Tarleton State University, creating meaningful relationships with each one. At the beginning of the school year she arranged for all of her mentees to meet one another, and plans to provide them with resources for studying for finals and how to stay safe on campus. Alexzandra’s CoFo Completion Coach Michelle Wang says that Alexzandra is a “superstar.” We are extremely proud of Alexzandra for being a great role model and leader.

October: Juan Jaimes

Screen Shot 2014-12-18 at 12.01.39 PM

Juan has gone above and beyond to help his mentees at Texas State University — last month he created a Motivation Event that included a presentation and videos illustrating how college students can cultivate and use motivation in their daily lives. College Forward loves Juan’s creativity, and his desire to develop and share such amazing resources with his mentees. We’re proud of his hard work and commitment to being such an amazing mentor!

November: Sarafina Andrew

Nov - Sarafina Andrew

With a whopping seven mentees at TAMU Corpus Christi, Sarafina doesn’t let her larger caseload stop her from being an awesome mentor. In November Sarafina led an event to help her mentees select classes for the spring, a crucial step to student success. Thank you, Sarafina, for all of your hard work — your mentees and College Forward appreciate you!