Mount Pleasant High School wins FAFSA Completion Challenge

Senior Class President Jasmin Urquilla joins Supt. Dr. Susan Lusi and Principal Chris Coleman in accepting a check from the Providence Children and Youth Cabinet for winning the FAFSA Completion Challenge. Behind them are CYC Project Manager Matthew Billings and Co-Director Angela Romans.

Senior Class President Jasmin Urquilla joins Supt. Dr. Susan Lusi and Principal Chris Coleman in accepting a check from the Providence Children and Youth Cabinet for winning the FAFSA Completion Challenge. Behind them are CYC Project Manager Matthew Billings and Co-Director Angela Romans.

Mount Pleasant High School’s Class of 2015 was awarded $800 from the Providence Children and Youth Cabinet’s youth engagement incentive fund for exceeding a 73-percent performance goal for completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), a leading factor in helping high school graduates access higher education.

The FAFSA Completion Challenge was issued to three Providence high schools this year as a pilot test.  Mount Pleasant (MPHS) is the only Providence high school in the incentive pilot cohort to reach the completion target, which reflected a seven-percent increase over last year’s FAFSA completion rate by MPHS graduating seniors.  The 2015 senior class voted to use the award to help fund Senior Week activities, including a trip to Six Flags, a Senior Awards Ceremony and the prom.

“We are so pleased to present this prize to the Mt. Pleasant Class of 2015,” said Providence Schools Superintendent and CYC co-chair Dr. Susan Lusi. “The collective efforts of our school and district staff, coupled with the outstanding support from our CYC partners, helped take student understanding and enthusiasm for this process beyond the ambitious goal set for the school. This is true teamwork in support of students.”

The FAFSA, used to determine eligibility for federal aid and the gateway to other student financial aid such as loans and work-study employment, is a critical factor in assisting students’ access to high education.

The program, supported by Lumina Foundation, is an outgrowth of the CYC’s Post-Secondary Enrollment Sub-Committee, which is focused on integrating cross-sector higher education fulfillment efforts to increase the number of Providence high school students who are prepared for and enroll in postsecondary education.

“The CYC believes it’s important to incentivize and celebrate youth engagement, particularly when it results in exceeding important education targets,” said CYC Project Manager Matthew Billings.  “We look forward to hearing how the MPHS seniors decide to use their well-deserved award.”

Lumina Foundation’s “Community Partnership for Attainment” program aims to deepen the impact of cross-sector, place-based efforts to increase higher education attainment, particularly among first-generation college students, low-income students and students of color in communities and cities across the U.S.  Its goal is to increase the proportion of citizens with high-quality postsecondary degrees and credentials to 60 percent by 2025.  Providence, through the CYC, is one of 75 cities targeted.

The CYC, founded in 2010, is a cross-sector coalition of 150 members and 60 children- and youth-serving organizations, designed to ensure that all children and youth in the city of Providence will have access to a coordinated, collaborative, integrated system of educational, social, physical, and behavioral health services from cradle to career.  The CYC is housed at and supported by Brown University’s Annenberg Institute for School Reform.

Angela Romans, co-director of district and systems transformation at the Annenberg Institute and a former leader of the CYC, congratulated the students for their achievement and urged them to reach out to the Mt. Pleasant teachers and staff whenever they need help.

“I’m very proud of you and very, very happy for you,” she said.

In 2012, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said:  “If students don’t think they can pay for college, they won’t apply for college. Giving more young people access to the tools they need to apply for federal student aid is a key part of our strategy to make America number one on the world for college graduates by 2020.”

Lumina Foundation is the nation’s largest private foundation focused solely on increasing Americans’ success in higher education. Based in Indianapolis, the Foundation employs approximately 55 staff members and has an endowment in excess of $1 billion.

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