Students, Education Professionals, and the State of Arizona will continue to benefit from College Success Arizona’s activities in 2017
By Rich Nickel, President and Chief Executive Officer
2016 was a great year for College Success Arizona, but an even better year for those we serve. We produced immeasurable impact through our scholarship programs, college success partnerships, research and information efforts, AzCAN activities, and leadership on important state and federal initiatives. High school and college students were not the only ones to benefit in 2016. Education practitioners, college access and success professionals, Arizona policy makers, partner organizations, and the community all benefitted from the work of College Success Arizona.
2016 shaped as a good one for scholarships! Seventy new scholarships were awarded to Arizona students, with the greatest financial need, attending colleges and universities across the state. Since 2005, we have committed more than $15.5 million in scholarships and services to over 1,100 students. Through 2016, over 330 scholars have earned bachelor’s degrees, and with hundreds of students in our education pipeline, we expect that number to continue to grow. Our scholarship program, which includes intense mentoring provided by professional success advisers, was highlighted nationally this year in an article by the Christian Science Monitor. This program continues to be the direct service that College Success Arizona is known for.
Because we know that funding is not all that’s needed to increase postsecondary graduation rates, we continue to offer a full set of college success services to our scholars, and to students involved with partner organizations. A great example of this is our partnership the Maricopa Community Colleges. For the second year, we served over 200 students who are part of the colleges’ EXCEL Program. With the help of a dedicated college success advisor, high-risk community college students receive intense wrap around services to help them stay on track and earn an associate’s degree, which also puts them in position to transfer to a four-year university.
While providing direct impact to students is vital, we know that change happens at all levels. It is important for the public and Arizona’s policy makers to have access to evidence based information and education trends, that highlight where we stand as a state, and the positive implications of investing in education. In 2016 we released an informational and influential economic impact report, titled Doubling Arizona’s Economic Growth. This report explored the incredible opportunity for growth if Arizona met certain educational attainment rate milestones.
Our reports, media coverage, and other daily communications activities helped set the stage for Arizona to set an educational attainment goal in 2016. College Success Arizona was proud to help lead an alliance of community organizations, businesses and institutions that called for and then set Arizona’s first ever state attainment goal. Supported by Governor Ducey, the launch of Achieve60AZ in September set a goal for 60 percent of Arizonans to hold a degree or professional certificate by 2030. College Success Arizona is proud to serve as a Director of the Achieve60AZ initiative as the alliance plans the future activities and strategies that will help Arizona achieve its important new goal.
Many impactful attainment activities are already happening in the state, and College Success Arizona, through its Arizona College Access Network program (AzCAN), collaborate on many of these initiatives. In 2016 AzCAN continued its great work through the College Knowing and Going initiative (CKGI), funded by Helios Education Foundation. Through this innovative program, AzCAN and several access and success partners throughout the state provide important services to help students prepare and plan for college, find resources to enroll, and develop strategies to succeed in earning degrees and certificates. Better usage of the state’s ECAP (Educational Career Action Plan), college entrance test preparation, Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion, applying for college, and building learning communities are just a few of areas that AzCAN helps in.
The year came to an end with two great events that help fund our scholarships and success services. The 2016 Leaders and Legends luncheon was a great success. This year’s honoree, retired Congressman Ed Pastor, reminded us all what a true servant leader can accomplish! We were also proud to be part of the 25th annual Bud Shootout golf scramble, presented by the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (AZHCC). This terrific event raised $75,000 for scholarships and the mentoring that College Success Arizona will provide to the AZHCC scholars.
This impact not would have been possible without the resources provided by terrific supporters and funders. We want to thank each and every one for helping financially needy student from Arizona, gain access and succeed in their postsecondary endeavors.
As much as was accomplished this year, there is much more to do. The need for funding, mentoring, and degree earners to support Arizona’s growing economy is substantial. In 2017, please consider helping a needy student pursue their educational goals, by supporting College Success Arizona. You can use this link to give your tax deductible donation on-line.