Campaign Updates

In 2011, Florida College Access Network launched with one goal in mind—increasing the percentage of Florida residents with a high-quality postsecondary degree or credential to 60% by the year 2025. We call it Goal 2025!

To date, scores of organizations across Florida have formally partnered with us by signing an official “Memorandum of Understanding” and pledging to work collaboratively toward Goal 2025.

Another  226 individuals have joined the movement by signing the Goal 2025 Pledge.

We invite you to take the first step of action today by either signing the Memorandum of Understanding for your organization or signing the Goal 2025 Pledge as an individual.

Here’s a recap of the campaign successes Florida C.A.N.! have had collectively as a group.

Following a September 2012 meeting with key stakeholders to find out why so few high school seniors completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the Collier County-based Champions for Learning set about forming its own local college network in Southwest Florida.

Beginning in January 2013, Florida C.A.N.! began to profile the hard work of our partners. From helping homeless students get tuition-free college waivers to educating Latino families about college realities to mentoring teenage YMCA members to linking struggling community college students to public benefits, our partners are making Goal 2025 a reality.

February 2013, Florida C.A.N.! rolled out new interactive mapping tools that allow parents, students and educators to see which state private and public colleges retain students and which ones lose them. We also “remixed” the federal government’s College Scorecard for Florida, giving students the power to zoom in on colleges by location, size, and major, while revealing the sticker price of what families actually pay, how much students borrow, and what percentage of students actually graduate on time.

In March 2013, Florida C.A.N.! mailed the Know Your Legislators guide to Goal 2025 pledge signers. The book is filled with Florida lawmaker information including Senate and House members’ photos, biographies, staffers, district office locations, numbers and e-mail addresses. In the coming year, it will be a useful field guide to holding local and state educators and leaders accountable for investing in higher education and promoting policies that boost college completion rates.

In April 2013, Florida C.A.N.! sounded the alarm on how impending changes to popular Bright Futures scholarship eligibility criteria could vastly reduce the number of college scholarships awarded to deserving Black and Latino students with high GPAs and strong academic achievement records. From Miami to Gainesville, Tampa to Ft. Lauderdale, media outlets spread the message of this drastic change which could keep thousands of high-achieving students from receiving full college scholarships to Florida universities and colleges. We hope this leads to a broader discussion about financial aid reform in Florida.

In May 2013, we continued to profile the work of our partner organizations, such as an alliance at Venice High School in Southwest Florida that provides students on-campus access to an agency solely devoted to getting them into college.  We announced the arrival of new data tracking systems in Florida that allow residents to follow wage and employment data by program and degree level by college. This would allow students and parents to better understand the overall value of their degrees.

June  saw the arrival of the 2013 Florida College Access & Success Summit.  We drew over 100 attendees to a conference that brought  together leaders from all sectors to learn about the latest in postsecondary access policy trends. Importantly, conference workshops got area stakeholders  talking to each other and taking the first steps toward developing college access networks in their own home regions of Florida.  Sen. John Legg  addressed his new legislation linking education to jobs. Helios Education Foundation President & CEO Paul Luna led a lunchtime plenary session on sparking community collaboration which discussed the links between educational attainment and economic vitality.

On the evening preceding the conference, we also screened First Generation, a trailblazing documentary, narrated by actor Blair Underwood that follows four low-income students as they struggle to access college. Following the movie, co-director Adam Fenderson and two of the student subjects in the film, Dontay Gray and Cecilia Lopez answered audience questions, speaking frankly about overcoming obstacles and revealing ways in which communities can mobilize to support youth trying to make it into higher education.

Lastly, our summit panel on the future of implementing Common Core standards in Florida sparked a lot of serious discussion about the connection between these new K-12 standards in English, literacy and math and the development of high school grads ready for the rigors of college. Panelists included Scott Hill, a senior program officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Anna Shults, Deputy Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives, Florida Department of Education; Randa Hanna, Chancellor, Florida College Syste, moderator John O’Connor, Florida StateImpact Reporter and Troy Miller, Senior Researcher and Policy Analyst at Florida C.A.N.! The panel served as a catalyst for a feature on Common Core on the WUSF radio show Florida Matters, which featured an interviewed with Troy Miller.

The session, moderated by public radio reporter John O’Connor, was later re-purposed into a Florida Matters radio show. Following the conference, Florida C.A.N. senior researcher and policy analyst Troy Miller also released his own comprehensive report on what Florida must do to ensure that the rollout of Common Core results in actual increases in college and career readiness for all students. While praising the new, rigorous standards, the report focuses on the need for resources, supports and policies to teach students the real-world fundamentals of selecting, planning and financing college and workforce training opportunities.

Over the summer, Florida C.A.N.! visited students in Naples and Miami to record their stories of being the first in their families to attend college. On camera, these promising college students and recent grads spoke movingly about the mentors and organizations that aided them in finding scholarships, navigating the application process and helping them realize their dreams.

In Miami, on the Kendall campus of Miami-Dade College, we documented the stories of two alumni of Educate Tomorrow, a non-profit devoted to helping homeless students get tuition-free college waivers.  Both higher education grads overcame teenage years marked by homeless shelters and foster placements to obtain degrees from major Florida universities.

In Naples, at the offices of Champions For Learning, we caught up with several alumni of the Take Stock in Children program who are now freshmen and sophomores at various Florida universities and colleges. In vivid detail, they describe why having weekly visits with a mentor, beginning in seventh grade, shifted their expectations and made applying to college both a necessity and possibility. Their voices and powerful stories are featured here at the Florida Goal 2025 web site.

Working together, we can achieve college and career readiness over the next decade.

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