To this day, I remember the pent-up excitement I felt the morning of June 5, 2015, moments before a truly transformational announcement from Atlanta Public Schools. I counted the hours, minutes, seconds to when we could tell all of APS, Atlanta and the nation the news. Finally, we spelled it out in huge headlines.
My own blog headline read:
With support from the Joseph B. Whitehead Foundation, the Woodruff Foundation and the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, Achieve Atlanta emerged with a clear, dynamic mission to dramatically increase the number of APS students graduating from high school and then entering and successfully graduating from colleges, universities and technical schools. This $20 million investment supported college counseling support and gap scholarships!
On that day, I described the initiative as “beautiful, bold and aggressive.”
I have rarely been as prescient as I was that day. The numbers bear the claim. Through four cohorts of APS students, 3,060 scholars have received Achieve Atlanta scholarships that total more than $18 million! They have been accepted at 248 colleges. Finally, APS’ college-going rate over that time has increased 11 percentage points with 62% of the 2018 cohort enrolled in two or four-year institutions.
Just in time for College and Career Motivation Week – comes another significant Achieve Atlanta announcement that should change the game even more to not only ensure our students go TO college but get THROUGH college.
This morning at Washington High School, our school counselors joined with Achieve Atlanta to unveil the Match & Fit List Builder, a first-of-its-kind online college advising tool.
As the video shows, the Match & Fit List Builder uses APS student-specific data to help students build lists of postsecondary options that best match their academic qualifications and fit their personal, social, and financial needs.
The Match & Fit List Builder provides students with important information about postsecondary institutions, including majors offered and estimated out-of-pocket cost for students with similar family incomes. The tool prioritizes schools based on graduation rates to ensure APS students are considering colleges and universities where they will have a better likelihood of success, including adequate support systems to help students overcome challenges that arise in college.
Screen shot of what an actual APS student might see in Match & Fit
As Tina Fernandez, executive director of Achieve Atlanta, further explained at the launch this morning, the Match & Fit List Builder helps students choose institutions where they are most likely to complete. When students consider all of their needs—academic, social, financial, and personal – in choosing their path after graduation, their chance of success dramatically improves.
The launch of this tool takes the impact of our partnership with Achieve Atlanta to an even higher level. Through this tool, students become empowered with the information they need to access, pursue and attain a postsecondary education. As counselors at Washington guided students through the tool, high school counselors across the district were also introducing APS students to this soon-to-be-essential advisement tool.
The tool is designed for use with all high school students, but for the rest of the year Achieve Atlanta and our counselors will work with current high school juniors. Next year, they will work with all high school students.
The financial and social emotional support Achieve Atlanta provides to thousands of our students every year has been transformational in our students’ lives, and we are so grateful for this impactful partnership.
Once again, I think we are experiencing the beginning of another transformational moment for Atlanta’s students!