2013 National GEAR UP Conference
I am grateful to all of the participants who thought it important enough to engage in the conversation regarding strategies to more effectively reach, encourage, and assist Latino and Migrant families in conceptualizing their college-bound plans. I am also grateful for the very kind and insightful evaluations of my session.
Now that you have taken the time to visit our foundation website, please take time to read some of the other blog entries pertaining to working with demographic subgroups, college planning, and scholarship research.
Below are some of the blog entries I believe you will find helpful in your work.
The research pertaining to the anti-deficit framework that I referenced is by University of Pennsylvania Professor, Shaun Harper, Black Male Success in Higher Education.Click here to read my blog entry…
My references to the “college knowledge gap” and some of the research-based challenges facing students from lower income backgrounds are outlined in my blog entry “Informing Low-Income Students About Their College Options.”
The California Opportunity Report: Roadblocks to College provides other useful research information to more fully understand how to be “research-responsive” to the needs of students living in poverty, Hispanic, African-American, and migrant families.
My blog entry, “Gates Millennium Scholars Scholarship” provides more insight into the program and why it is so important that students who meet the eligibility criteria learn about the program as early as possible during their education so that they have the opportunity to earn the GPA and to engage in the type of leadership activities that will make them competitive candidates.
One of the best kept secrets and greatest opportunities for students of color and students from lower income backgrounds are “Diversity Weekends.” My blog entry outlines a variety of Diversity Weekends hosted on the campuses of some of the most selective colleges in the country. Many of the schools provide free transportation, housing, and meals for invited students. These opportunities go the heart of my presentation, i.e., anti-deficit thinking. If you begin from the premise that your students are not performing well enough to be invited to such weekends, then you will miss the importance of talking to them about the opportunity. The goal is share the opportunity and to inspire them to make themselves into a competitive candidate for such opportunities. Click to go to the category on my blog…
Keep in mind that the three keys I spoke about regarding student and family engagement are Inspiration, Information, and Strategies. Your pursuit of these keys should assist you in identifying the consultants, speakers, and messengers who can inspire your students and parents, inform them of what must be done to navigate their way through the very complicated college admissions and financial aid processes, and provide them with the strategies to make the right college match and acquire the necessary financial aid to pay for college.
Keep in touch and I wish you the best in serving the needs of students and families in your program.
During the past week, I had opportunities to speak to political and community leaders, school district personnel, and parents in the Ferguson-Florrisant School District. I am appreciative of the hospitality extended by Superintendent, Dr. Art McCoy, II, his staff, and District Community and Parent Engagement Facilitator, Ms. Ellenmaria Wilcock.
I also had the opportunity to address attendees at the opening of the SCABSE Conference in Myrtle Beach, SC and to conduct a workshop on the content of my newest book. I am appreciative of the hospitality extended by Dr. Zona Jefferson, conference chair, and SCABSE President, Mr. Nathaniel Haynes, Jr.
Following are links to the research and presentation information for each of my presentations:
- University of Michigan research study regarding GPA and social acceptance
- Facts about who goes to college
- 2012 Schott Foundation Report on Black Male Graduation Rates
- Increasing Black Male College Access and Success research study
- Show Me They Money: Scholarships, Financial Aid, and Making the Right College Choice Presentation
The primary focus of these presentations was to sensitize educators, parents, and policy makers to the importance of gathering, examining, and being responsive to subgroup data. Whether conceptualizing strategies to increase student achievement, expand course enrollment, increase college readiness, or identify college scholarships, we must respond to the unique needs of students and families.
If you attended any of the presentations and you would like to email me with questions, please do so at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The following links are to the presentations delivered recently at the Texas State-wide Parent Involvement Conference. I thoroughly appreciated the opportunity to speak to parents, educators, and community volunteers regarding the college and scholarship opportunities for Texas students.
Click here to download the PDF file of the slides referred to during the College Planning for Middle School Students presentation
Click here to download the PDF file of the slides referred to during the Overcoming the Roadblocks to College presentation
Presentation slides from recent presentations are available for download for approximately 7 days following the presentation.
The college-planning workshop, “Choosing the Right Summer Programs” hosted by the Turner Chapel AME Church Education Ministry is taken from the book, “A High School Plan for Students with College-Bound Dreams”:
“Your experiences, such as where you have traveled, the type of communities where you have lived, the organizations with which you have been involved with, and the programs or camps in which you have participated contribute to your intangibles (p. 101). The summer months between 8th grade and your senior year of high school should not be squandered. Take advantage of the many opportunities to explore your talents, interests, and abilities. Some of the many opportunities that you may explore, experience, or become involved in are:
- Working in a meaningful job related to an area of interest or through an internship
- Participating in a summer learning opportunity in an academic, artistic, or community service
- Participating in pre-college summer camps/programs
- Participating in a AAU, USATF, or club sport
- Participating in summer practice for a high school sport such as football, cross country, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, etc.
- Volunteering as a counselor, life guard, coach, or art instructor at a parks and recreation, Boys & Girls Club, or community program
- Taking some of your non-academic classes or electives in summer school to open your schedule for more honors or advanced classes during the regular school year
There are many summer enrichment, internship, and college program opportunities. The first two stops are your high school counselor’s office and the web. Research programs related to your areas of interest and utilize the opportunity to increase your academic or athletic skills. Try to concentrate first and foremost on those areas that related directly to your college interests, whether in your major field or study or in sports that you intend to pursue on the college level (pp 163-164).”
The workshop also expanded parents’ and students’ understanding of the importance of taking advantage of summer program and enrichment opportunities to enhance students’ résumés and expand students’ gifts. To begin identifying summer program opportunities, do an Internet search of your area of interest, e.g., music summer programs, sports camps, pre-college programs.
Click onto the follow images for links to some of the many summer program opportunities shared in the workshop.
Teamwork is Key
On Sunday, January 29, 2012 I presented a FAFSA, Scholarships, and Financial Aid workshop at Turner Chapel AME Church in Marietta, Georgia. Joining me in the presentation was Tyrone Smith of Pathway Educational Service. Due to the enormous amount of information presented during the workshop, I have highlighted some of the critical areas of information, together with links to important websites. As illustrated on the above slide, the financial aid opportunities that high school seniors have, is largely reflective of the broad range of planning and support received throughout their elementary-through-high school journey:
- How effectively did they research the colleges they applied to?
- Did they prepare a quality application package?
- Did they have access to mentors and guidance counselors?
- Did they write impressive college and scholarship essays?
- Were they involved in impressive leadership activities?
- Were they well prepared for interviews?
- Did they perform well academically and were they well-prepared for their SAT or ACT exams?
These are some of the many areas of support and guidance that we have provided to students to prepare them for college admission and for identifying the necessary financial support to pay for college.
Research Your Colleges
Take advantage of the many opportunities to research the colleges and universities you are applying to. Beginning with the colleges’ website, identify such important information as:
- Financial aid policies, e.g., need-based, institutional grants and scholarships
- Financial aid deadlines and requirements, i.e., FAFSA, CSS Financial Profile, institutional scholarships
- Tuition, room and board, and fees
Websites and free assistance that will assist with your research:
- CSS/Financial Aid Profile
- Federal Title IV Programs
- Federal Help Line: 1.800.4.FED.AID
- College Research Sheet
- Inside College Listing of Need-based Colleges
- Net Price Calculator
- Georgia Student Finance Commission
- U.S. News and World Report College Rankings
Keys to Financial Aid:
- Submit your paperwork on time, even if you have to estimate
- Develop a quality scholarship package, i.e., résumé, transcript, essays, recommendation letters, awards, and community service
- Scholarships, Grants, Work-Study, Federal Loans [Private Loans—Loans of Last Resort!]
One of the most pressing challenges in communities, both in the U.S. and abroad, is closing the achievement gap between Black males and their counterparts from other demographic groups. Our partnership with the Turner Chapel AME Church Education Ministry has yielded some important and impressive successes that other communities can learn from. Pictured above are students whom we begin working with to prepare for the Georgia Criterion-Reference Competency Testing (CRCT). Through such early interventions, our students will not only be better prepared to be admitted into college, they will be prepared to succeed in college.
Through our strategies, we have been able to:
- Create an institutional focus on student achievement
- Establish expectations and publicly celebrate student achievement
- Inspire students to establish personal achievement goals
- Provide support mechanisms for students to achieve their goals
- Empower experts to lead
- Build partnerships to expand
- Engage in continual debriefing/preplanning to assess and revise strategies
These strategies have resulted in a broad range of programs, initiatives, and support mechanisms for students in elementary school through college:
- A biannual celebration of student achievement for students in grades K – 12 earning a 3.0 GPA or higher we have successfully raised academic expectations and parent awareness of the importance of tracking their child’s grades semester to semester, and from year to year. We offer special award for the male and female students in grades 6 – 12 who have the highest overall GPA.
- Georgia CRCT (Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests) Prep for students in grades 3 – 8 through our partnerships with High Points Learning (online math tutorial) and Pathways Educational Services (math teachers/tutors).
- A comprehensive series of college-planning workshops outlining the importance of course selection, academic rigor, school choice, summer programs, enrichment opportunities, college research, essay writing, interviewing, scholarships, financial aid, completing the FAFSA, and the importance of community service.
- SAT Prep and college tours through our partnership with Pathways Educational Services to expose students to college campuses, college admissions officers, and the type of SAT and ACT scores that colleges are looking for in applicant pool.
- An annual college fair with over 50 colleges and universities represented. HBCUs, state colleges and universities, Ivy League, Technical Colleges, and the U.S. Service Academies are all represented so that our students can learn firsthand what it will take to prepare for college.
- A leadership program for high school students, the Education Ministry Youth Ambassadors. This program is designed to ensure they develop the presentation, public speaking, and leadership skills that will make them competitive candidates for the most selective colleges and universities.
- A high school graduation celebration for our high school seniors, who attend public and private secondary schools in as many as 8 different school districts. We recognize, celebrate, pray, and bless them with financial awards as we send them off to a broad range of institutions of higher education (HBCU, Ivy League, State Colleges and Universities, Military Academies, and Liberal Arts Colleges).
- An Adopt-a-Grad program where we remain connected to our college students. They are invited to participate on our annual college panel, relied upon to mentor students enrolling at their college or university, and are provided with scholarship and internship opportunities.
We are not relying on a “Program,” but a set of “Strategies.” These strategies have yielded extraordinary results. Our students have participated in a board range of enrichment and pre-college summer programs, received full scholarships to a broad range of colleges and universities, have been recognized as National Merit and Gates Millennium Scholars. Our students have earned near perfect scores on the Georgia Writing Assessment, CRCT, SAT, and ACT.
These strategies provide a comprehensive model that any faith-based or community organization can model. Schools cannot do it alone. Based on the 2011 ACT results, nearly 8 out of 10 of all high school seniors took the ACT with aspirations of attending a 4-year college of university. However, less than 4 out of 10 were considered “college ready” in each of the subject areas tested. For Black students, only 4 out of 100 were college ready.
Please contact us to learn how your church or community organization can develop such strategies to meet the needs of students and families in your local community.
(678) 395-5825 or email email@example.com.
Wake County Public Schools’ Saturday Speaker Institute
I was honored at having been invited to speak at the distinguished Wake County Public Schools’ Saturday Speaker Institute. I was equally gratified to have so many educators set aside their Saturday to engage in discussions with colleagues around the very important issue of Increasing Black Male Achievement.
Some of the important information shared was:
- Disaggregated student performance and college enrollment data and how it should be used to drive strategic discussions
- The importance of identifying successful Black males at the secondary school and postsecondary school level to engage in conversations with Black males in elementary, middle, and high school
- How to develop strategies that are “Research-Responsive”
- The importance of understanding your personal journey and how it can connect you to the challenges, experiences, hopes, and dreams of your students
- Why you must focus your strategic discussions on those areas that you believe to be the greatest contributing factors to the low performance of Black males within your school community
- The importance of identifying and supporting the “Champions” within your school community as exemplified by such champions as Marva Collins, Urban Prep Charter High School, and Morehouse College
From the table discussions and the commitment that many in attendance made to immediately implementing strategies provides us with hope. The personal responsibility that many accepted to implement strategies within their personal sphere of influence provides an example—we need not wait on new programs, a new curriculum, or new policy. We can make a difference in the academic outcomes and shape a more positive future for children today. We can make a difference through the relationships that we cultivate and strategies that we implement.
Visionary Leaders Principal’s Institute (Presented at the NABSE Conference in New Orleans, LA)
At today’s Visionary Leaders Principal’s Institute participants were led through important strategic discussions as a precursor to identifying the people, programs, and practices needed to cultivate a high-performing school culture. In attendance were school board members, administrators, teachers, staff persons, and community representatives from throughout the United States and Canada.
Some of the important information shared was:
- Most children want to attend college despite the reality that few children are considered “college ready” after graduating from high school
- Despite seemingly insurmountable odds, the former Marva Collin’s Westside Preparatory School, Urban Prep Charter High School, and Morehouse College have proven that high achievement can be achieved with the nation’s lowest performing student group (i.e., African-American males)
- Each school must identify the “Champions” needed to reach students, implement programs, or transform school culture
- Each school must conceptualized the necessary strategies to support their Champions and identify the funding sources to ensure that their Champions are able to meet the needs of all students–from the highest performing to the lowest performing
During my second presentation, participants were led through some of the issues outlined in the book, “Increasing Achievement & Inspiring Parent Involvement” necessary to sensitize staff persons to the real issues confronting students and families.
Participants explored the importance of engaging staff persons, mentors, and volunteers in such conversations as:
- How a focus on learning necessitates developing an understanding of students and families
- Understanding what has shaped the world view of students of color and families living in poverty
- Understanding how to ease student anxiety
- Understanding the importance of using mistakes to learn and not to punish
- The importance of making connections to student interests and connecting students to themselves
- The importance of meeting the needs of your best parents
Watch the video “The Importance of Parent Involvement.”