‘Tis the season at Achieve Atlanta! We’re busily working to close out the fall semester on a strong footing, reflecting on what we’ve learned and accomplished in 2018, and setting our intentions for the new year.
During 2018, we served more than 6,000Atlanta Public Schools students and graduates. We worked to help them get to college, pay for college and succeed in college.
By assembling experts from multiple sectors to tackle the problem of low degree-attainment and establishing the conditions for effective collaboration, Achieve Atlanta continued to facilitate problem-solving and innovationand helped strengthen a community of invested stakeholders that are focusing on APS students’ success. We achieved important milestones together with the district, public and private colleges, universities, technical colleges, non-profits, business and civic leaders, and national stakeholders.
First, more students are going to college.In just two years, we’ve seen a 32% increase in the number of APS graduates enrolling in college the fall after high school graduation. What’s more, all indicators are that the number will continue to rise.
Second, more students are accessing funds to pay for college.Before Achieve Atlanta started in fall of 2015, less than half of the senior class in the district completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The application is notoriously complicated because it requires parents and legal guardians to submit detailed tax and financial information to the federal government. In two years, we’ve seen a 36% increase in FAFSA completers, and we estimate students have accessed an additional $2 million in federal grants as a result.
And of course, one of the hallmarks of Achieve Atlanta is the Achieve Atlanta scholarship. So far, we have provided scholarships to more than 2,000 Atlanta Public School graduates – paying out nearly $11 million in awards. We have also made a future commitment of nearly $25 million to Scholars who remain in school.
And finally, more students are succeeding in college.More students persisted to their second year of college than before we launched the Achieve Atlanta scholarship. When you compare our students’ first- to second-year college persistence rates with state and national data, Achieve Atlanta scholars outpaced similar students across the state of Georgia and the nation.
We also are celebrating the fact that we continue to strengthen the college success community and received two additional investments from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – one directly to Achieve Atlanta and one to APS.
These grants will support the development of a match-and-fit data tool for students and school staff. The tool will help students find colleges where they are more likely to succeed, based on academics, personal interests and financial considerations.In addition, we will be able to provide technical assistance to school teams on data use and continuous improvement practices. Through this work, students and families will be able to make stronger college choices.
While we’ve gotten a lot done, we continue to encounter the persistent and systemic barriers our students face in their quest to earn post-secondary degrees. During 2019, we will remain steadfast in our quest to break down more of these barriers and help our students stay on a path to college success.
Our tagline at Achieve Atlanta is Believe. Expect. Achieve. We believe in what’s possible for our students and our community. We expect excellence – from ourselves, our students and our community of stakeholders. Together, we will help students achieve their dreams – for themselves and their families.
We are truly grateful for all those who support our work, and most importantly, for the students who inspire us every day. We wish you all a very happy holiday season and a prosperous 2019!