Title

The Valencia Horizon Program- The Village Approach to College Access and Readiness

First Presenter's Institution

Valencia College

Second Presenter's Institution

Valencia College

Third Presenter's Institution

NA

Fourth Presenter's Institution

NA

Fifth Presenter's Institution

NA

Location

Session 7 (Westbrook)

Strand #1

Family & Community

Strand #2

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance

The Valencia Horizon (Take Stock in Children) program focuses to educated the whole student so that he/she is prepared to become an active and life-long learner while at the same time, becomes and an socially responsible and civically engaged member of the community in which he/she lives. We do this through a program of scholarship, leadership development, mentorship and civic engagement. We involved members of the community and school as well as the family to create a village around each of our students.

Brief Program Description

This session will focus on the design, development and implementation of a college access/readiness program that includes a mentor and a two year college scholarship for every student. We will discuss how we turned around a program that had only 85% of high school seniors graduating and 78% starting college to 100% doing both for the past two years. We will also share the successes and lessons learned of tripling the size of our program in under three years. Participants will have a chance to brainstorm ways to replicate all or parts of our program within their own schools/communities.

Summary

For over three years, the Valencia College-Take Stock in Children has served as a successful model of mentoring for at-risk students in the State of Florida. Through a unique program that combines introductions to college and lifelong learning with social and civic responsibility, and with the support of high school administrators and counselors, community organizations, our college success coaches and most importantly, volunteer mentors, 100% of our students graduate high school and continue on to start college within three months. This is up from only 78% percent in previous years. In order to achieve this success, our team led a large scale assessment and redesign so that we are able to provide the necessary programming in order to ensure our students’ success. The cornerstone of our college access/readiness program is the mentoring experience that links members of the Central Florida community with students. Our mentors are passion individuals from the local community who care about education and investing in the lives of young people. Our mentors work individually with 300 9th-12th graders across 19 high schools. They receive training, are hand matched with students and meet with their assigned students a minimum of 15 times during the school year to provide them with advice on personal, professional and academic growth.

This session will share the steps we took to design a mentoring program that not only meets the growing needs of our student population, but provides mentors with meaningful professional development and business networking opportunities. We will place a significant emphasis on the steps we take to recruit, retain and recognize our volunteers. This will include our training and school placement/matching process. We will also explore the steps we took to create a growth plan that includes increasing the number of students/mentors from 100 three years ago, to 300 currently and to 1,500 over the next five years. We will engage our participants in a dialogue about the challenges we faced while growing our program and the lessons learned. While it is helpful to share best practices, we want to ensure that participants will leave this session with ideas for a plan of action for their own programs and therefore this session will include opportunities for brainstorming ideas, sharing challenges and successes and identifying viable community partners.

Evidence

Through a series of assessments and evaluations we have been able to measure the success of our co-curricular programs (workshops, service, mentoring experience). The real proof of success is that 100% of our students seniors have graduated each of the past two years, up from 85% previously and that 100% of our seniors start college the fall after they graduate high school, up from 78% two years ago. We are also working with an educational foundation through a grant to track the success of freshmen students which started last year.

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Kelly Astro has twenty years of educational program administration, teaching, training and curriculum development in the areas of leadership, college access, career preparation, elementary education, civic engagement and social responsibility. Since 2016, Kelly has served as the Director of the Valencia Promise-Take Stock in Children program at Valencia College and is leading the significant expansion and re-design of the scholarship and mentorship based program for high school students.

Lindsay Regruit came to her current position two years ago after working at Walt Disney World with the College Program and as a key member of the Food and Wine event team. Over the past two years, Lindsay has grown the mentor program from less than 50 mentors to 300 and developed a meaningful strategy for the recruitment, retention and recognition of volunteers.

Keyword Descriptors

mentoring, at-risk, parental involvement, community partnerships, advocacy, volunteers, funding

Presentation Year

2019

Start Date

3-5-2019 2:45 PM

End Date

3-5-2019 4:00 PM

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Mar 5th, 2:45 PM Mar 5th, 4:00 PM

The Valencia Horizon Program- The Village Approach to College Access and Readiness

Session 7 (Westbrook)

This session will focus on the design, development and implementation of a college access/readiness program that includes a mentor and a two year college scholarship for every student. We will discuss how we turned around a program that had only 85% of high school seniors graduating and 78% starting college to 100% doing both for the past two years. We will also share the successes and lessons learned of tripling the size of our program in under three years. Participants will have a chance to brainstorm ways to replicate all or parts of our program within their own schools/communities.