College & Career Readiness Network: Making Higher Education a Real Possibility for Worcester Kids
Nine hundred. That’s how many high school seniors from across Worcester County applied for a GWCF college scholarship this year, breaking all previous records. While only able to help a fraction of these students with our limited dollars, we were nonetheless encouraged by the depth of motivation and commitment of Worcester area young people to pursue higher education. They’re ready to go for it.
Cost is only one consideration for whether to attend college after high school. Being ready academically, personally, and socially can be huge stumbling blocks that not every family is able to navigate. Thankfully, Worcester families and students may benefit from the 23 different programs of the College and Career Readiness Network. These nonprofit providers, many of whom receive Foundation funding, collaborate to serve the needs of high school students throughout the college experience.
On an afternoon in September, we brought these agencies together through our donor education Outreach & Education Site Visitors Program. The College Readiness Roundtable gave us even further confidence that our community is providing greatly needed supports for targeted families.
Representatives from Bottom Line, the Adam Achievers Program of Clark University, the College Success Institute of MassEdCo, Dynamy Youth Academy of YOU, Inc., Let’s Get Ready, and the Minority Achievers Program of the YMCA of Central MA came together for this discussion. All share a commitment to using proven practices to help students realize their college potential.
One key learning: these programs are complementary, targeting different ages and audiences, and using a range of interventions – from test preparation, to mentoring, to academic support and leadership development. The programs make it work for each student who makes the commitment. The greater challenge these providers face is that students sometimes self-select out, believing that college is simply not a realistic possibility for them.
Worcester students have diverse backgrounds, experiences, needs, and hopes for the future. We want to remove any barrier to their positive future, and are proud of the cooperative group of nonprofit organizations that form this safety network for young people to make it after high school.