WHEF Announces $2.6 million IMPACT Initiative

Students attending Mississippi public universities will benefit from a five-year, multi-million dollar commitment from the Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF) to support college retention, persistence, and completion through the Improving Mississippi’s Persistence and Completion Together (IMPACT) initiative.
  
WHEF is an endowed Mississippi non-profit organization that has focused its efforts on promoting increased postsecondary access among underrepresented students for nearly 25 years, and more recently, expanded its mission to also support increased credential completion within the state.  

“According to Georgetown University, it is estimated that 65% of all jobs require some kind of postsecondary education. Currently, Mississippi sits at 40.9%,” said WHEF President and CEO Jim McHale. “In order to improve the lives of Mississippians and to competitively position our state within a global economy, there is a critical need to not only have more students enroll in college, but to have them successfully complete their degree or credential.” 

A competitive request for proposals process will open in November 2019, with grantee awards announced in spring of 2020.  Eligible institutions will use data-informed approaches to identify, implement, and scale innovative solutions aimed at strengthening the retention, persistence and completion of student populations that pose greater risks for non-completion. 

In addition to $2.6 million in available grant funding, WHEF will underwrite biennial IMPACT convenings for all Mississippi public baccalaureate institutions, with the goal of creating a state-specific, facilitated community of practice for the exchange of findings, insights, and ideas; in addition, WHEF plans to provide coordinated access to high-quality professional development opportunities for institutional faculty and staff, innovations in data collection and usage, as well as platforms for peer learning, according to WHEF Program Officer and IMPACT Project Lead Shanell Watson. 
 
“In addition to providing financial resources to individual schools, we hope to create a learning community where generative conversations about college success can happen,” Watson said. “Although each Mississippi institution has its own unique challenges and opportunities, they are also working to solve the same problems. Our goal with the IMPACT initiative is to provide a place where our universities can share with and learn from one another, for the betterment of all our students.” 

For more information about WHEF or the IMPACT grant initiatives, contact WHEF Director of Communications and IMPACT Courtney Lange

Posted by Courtney Lange at Thursday, November 14, 2019

MS Sees Increase in Percent of High School Seniors Applying for Financial Aid

Last year, more Mississippi high school seniors applied for college financial aid, according to data from Federal Student Aid, an office of the US Department of Education. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the primary application through which students gain access to federal, state and institutional financial aid to attend college. As of August 23, 2019, Mississippi ranked 3rd nationally, with more than 74% of high school seniors having completed the form, compared to the national average of 62%.

Of the Mississippi high school seniors who have completed the FAFSA this year, 66% of them may be Pell Grant eligible. The Pell Grant is awarded to students who have high financial need.

“In order to access critical financial aid, all students who plan to enroll in a postsecondary program need to complete the FAFSA, but it is particularly important for low-income students, who may not otherwise have access to money to pay for college,” said Get2College Program Director Ann Hendrick. “We also look for our Mississippi FAFSA numbers to increase due to the new College and Career Readiness (CCR) course which is required for graduation for the high school class of 2022.  While FAFSA completion is not a requirement of the course, the course includes a unit to increase awareness about student financial aid and FAFSA completion. “

Completion of the FAFSA is a good predictor of a student accessing postsecondary education. Get2College, a program of the Woodward Hines Education Foundation, has discovered, through their new research from the Social Science Research Center (SSRC) at Mississippi State University, students who completed a FAFSA had over four times (4X) greater odds of enrolling in college than those who did not complete a FAFSA. Completing the FAFSA by March 31, or earlier enables students to potentially qualify for funding from federal student aid, Mississippi student aid, institutional dollars, and some private scholarships. 

“I am proud of the statewide team effort to increase FAFSA completion rates in Mississippi,” said Institutions of Higher Learning Director of Student Financial Aid Jennifer Rogers.  “This work is so important, because FAFSA completion gives students access to not only federal financial aid but game-changing state financial aid as well.  The state HELP Grant, which requires students to complete the FAFSA, awards full tuition to qualifying students, an amount that can make the difference between a student earning a college degree and stopping out.”

Get2College offers one-on-one, hands-on FAFSA completion assistance in their offices in Jackson, Southaven, and Ocean Springs and throughout the state in high schools. Virtual FAFSA completion assistance is also available to students and families who need FAFSA support remotely. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit www.get2college.org.

Posted by Courtney Lange at Monday, November 11, 2019

Grant aims to increase College Attainment in Mississippi

Students across Mississippi will benefit from almost $28 million in funding to support college access and success thanks to the Gaining Early Awareness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant. GEAR UP is funded through the US Department of Education and aims to increase the number of low-income students who are getting to and through college.

The seven-year grant was awarded to Mississippi State University and will be supported in partnership with the Get2College program of the Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF). Other grant partners include the Mississippi Department of Education, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, and ACT.

“The GEAR UP grant will bring one of the largest and most effective federal programs focused on improving college and career readiness of low-income students to Mississippi,” said Brandi Lyndall, director of GEAR UP MS for Get2College. “Through community-based strategies and statewide approaches, we will increase the number of low-income students who are prepared for college and will be successful there.”

GEAR UP will provide targeted college access services and other benefits to students in the Greenville, McComb, and Meridian public school districts, beginning in middle school with the goals of increasing: readiness for college; high school graduation rates; access to information on postsecondary schools, career options, and financial aid; and college enrollment.

“According to Georgetown University, it is estimated that by 2020, 65% of all jobs will require some kind of postsecondary education. Currently, Mississippi sits at 40.9%,” said WHEF President and CEO Jim McHale. “In recent years, Mississippi has made progress in increasing the educational attainment rate of our citizens, and I am confident that this grant will allow us to continue to build on that momentum.”

In addition to targeted work in partner school districts, GEAR UP will provide additional support to students and educators throughout Mississippi. WHEF’s Get2College program will provide statewide ACT prep for teachers, financial aid application support for students and families, and professional development for school counselors. Each year, Get2College provides FAFSA completion support and other direct college-planning services to students and families, and professional development to high school counselors and school leaders, explained Get2College Program Director Ann Hendrick.

“Everything we do is research-based and known to increase the college-going rate of the students we serve, including FAFSA completion, which is a strong predictor of a student’s likelihood to enroll in college,” Hendrick said. “Get2College supports FAFSA completion directly and through partnerships throughout the state and currently ranks third in the nation for highest percentage of FAFSA completion by high school seniors. We are excited to continue our work and to reach even more Mississippians as a part of GEAR UP Mississippi.”

 

Project partners will also develop a virtual reality app, allowing students to explore each of Mississippi’s public universities and eight key industries. Additionally, students will be given 24/7 access to an online chat feature that will provide answers to common state and federal financial aid questions.

 

Posted by Courtney Lange at Thursday, September 12, 2019

Get2College Corps member awarded prestigious scholarship

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College student and Get2College Corps member Meghan Nguyen has been awarded the prestigious Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship for high-achieving community college students. Meghan, of Ocean Springs, will receive $40,000 per year to attend a four-year college or university.

Scholarship recipients are chosen based on strong records of achievement in the areas of grades, leadership skills, and service to others. Meghan is one of only 61 students in the nation to receive the award. After completing her bachelor’s degree, Cooke Scholars are also eligible to apply for a scholarship for graduate school worth up to $50,000 a year for up to four years.

While a student at MGCCC, Meghan served as a Get2CollegeCorps member. A program of the Woodward Hines Education Foundation, the Get2College Corps is a competitive paid internship for high-achieving community college students. As a part of the program, Corps members are trained to help Mississippi students and their families complete the FAFSA. 

“I am so excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to see where it leads,” Meghan said. “I could not have done this without the help, generosity and support of the Woodward Hines Education Foundation. WHEF and especially the Get2College program will always have a special place in my heart.”

Meghan is an active member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and has also received scholarships from Pearson Higher Education, Coca-Cola and the Tennessee Valley Authority. She plans to transfer to Mississippi State University where she will major in chemical engineering and minor in mathematics and business administration.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the Foundation has awarded $190 million in scholarships to nearly 2,500 students, along with comprehensive counseling and other support services. The Foundation has also provided more than $100 million in grants to organizations that serve students.

 

Posted by Courtney Lange at Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Greenville's Hidden Voices

Get2College, a program of the Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF), is participating in a grant in partnership with Mississippi State University. The Greenville Voices grant is funded through the Corporation for National and Community Service. The project seeks to engage residents and other local stakeholders in learning about and researching college access services available in the Greenville community that support a college-going culture.

The project is led by MSU Assistant Professor Dr. Carol Cutler White, who serves as the principal investigator and lead researcher. Dr. White works with a small group of local high school and college students and parents, who serve as co-researchers on the project, using a research method known as PhotoVoice.

PhotoVoice uses photography to give a voice to the lived reality of students, who are trying to get information about going to college. The photos, submitted by students, will be shared through various local outlets, giving community members an opportunity to give their own input on where college information is available. The goal of the project is to identity available college access points in the community and possibly apply for further funding through AmeriCorps, Retired Senior Volunteer Corps (RSVP), and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) grant programs to support staff in those access points.

“Increasing access to college and educational attainment in Mississippi is certainly an issue that we are passionate about,” said WHEF President and CEO Jim McHale. “This is particularly important in the Mississippi Delta.”

The percentage of Mississippian’s, who have completed a degree or credential beyond high school sits at 41%, McHale explained. The national average is almost 48%. Currently, fewer than 27% of people in Washington County have an education beyond high school.

“At Woodward Hines, we define college as any kind of degreeor credential beyond high school. That includes a two- or four-year degree, but also a welding or advanced manufacturing certificate,” McHale explained. “We know that an education that leads to meaningful employment is the best way to improve the lives of Mississippians and to move Mississippi forward. Our hopeis that this project will be a catalyst in doing that.”

 

Posted by Courtney Lange at Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Get2College Program Shows Promising Early Results

The National College Access Network (NCAN) talks about the early results of Get2College Pilot School Program. The goal of the program is to create a college-going culture in eight Mississippi high schools by offering college planning services including FAFSA completion, ACT prep courses, college planning timeline appointments to students and families. Read more here.

Posted by Courtney Lange at Friday, March 15, 2019

Talent, Meet Opportunity

 

The title of our annual impact report, “Talent, Meet Opportunity,” was inspired by my travels throughout this great state and by meeting so many bright and capable high school students and adults who want more but don’t feel they have the potential or opportunity to pursue a postsecondary degree or credential that will ultimately lead to a better life. Whether it is in the Delta, along the Gulf Coast, or in the Golden Triangle, I am constantly reminded—that, while talent is equally distributed in Mississippi, opportunity is not.

Jim McHale, President and CEO

 

Read the report here.


 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Courtney Lange at Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Get2College Corps Members find Program Meaningful

Get2College, a program of the Woodward Hines Education Foundation, is proud to partner with Phi Theta Kappa to assist students and their families with navigating the complex financial aid process by supporting their FAFSA completion efforts through the Get2College Corps.

The Get2College Corps is a competitive, paid internship for high-achieving community college students who are members of Phi Theta Kappa. There are currently 17 students from 12 Mississippi community colleges who participate.

As a part of the program, Corps members are trained to help Mississippi students and their families complete the FAFSA. They work in community colleges across the state and in the three Get2College Center locations in Jackson, Southaven and Ocean Springs, helping with one-on-one FAFSA completion. The goal of the program is to increase FAFSA completion statewide by the March 31 priority deadline for the HELP grant, the only need-based grant available for Mississippi students.

“I am glad to have had the opportunity to assist so many students as they plan for their next steps,” says Pearl River Community College student and Corps member Michael Evans. “When I tell a mother that money is available and that college is a viable option for her child, her face lights up—and I feel like I am a part of something worthwhile.”

Corps member and Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College student Nader Pahlevann describes his experience as a Get2College Corps member as being “meaningful.”

“Being a part of the Get2College Corps has given me an opportunity to work on my leadership and communication skills, while also helping students complete the FAFSA and state aid applications, to that they have access to as much money to pay for college as possible,” he says. “I am also very grateful for the generous scholarship, which will help me as I continue my education beyond community college. I will always value what I have learned as a part of the program.”

During the fall 2018 semester, Corps members worked a total of 1328 hours and took 773 appointment to support FAFSA completion.

 

Posted by Courtney Lange at Friday, March 1, 2019

Inside Philanthropy: What a Foundation is Doing to Boost College Access and Completion

The work of WHEF was recently featured in Inside Philanthropy for our grant making work with Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and Achieving the Dream. Both projects work to increase college access and success in Mississippi. Read more here.

Posted by Courtney Lange at Thursday, February 14, 2019

Woodward Hines awards $440,000 grant to Phi Theta Kappa

On January 16, 2019, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and Woodward Hines Education Foundation announced a $440,000 grant to benefit high-achieving two-year college students in Mississippi with financial need. Phi Theta Kappa provides academic, social, and financial support to an otherwise vulnerable population of students, and its members complete college at a higher rate than non-members. This scholarship will enable thousands of Mississippi students with financial need to join Phi Theta Kappa and gain access to the life-changing opportunities and benefits offered through the organization.

Read this story by the Daily Journal of the crucial role community colleges and Phi Theta Kappa play in the lives of two Mississippians. With the Golden Opportunities grant, WHEF is proud to support students like Jenna and Mallorie who learn and work in Mississippi.

Posted by Courtney Lange at Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Get2College Pilot School Evaluation

In order to increase the number of students going to, persisting and completing college, the Get2College Pilot School Program is designed to use nationally identified best practices and benchmarks from the National College Access Network (NCAN). Researchers at the Mississippi State University Social Science Research Center are working to evaluate the program. Read more here.

Posted by Courtney Lange at Monday, January 7, 2019

The Higher Ed Completion Crisis in three minutes

Half of all students who enter post-secondary education earn a degree and students who don't complete are more likely to default on loans. These short informative videos are a quick way to learn more about the higher education landscape. They also offer possible solutions to the higher ed completion crisis in this country.

Click here to watch...

Posted by Courtney Lange at Tuesday, January 1, 2019

WHEF Celebrates Christmas

WHEF staff members shared a special Christmas luncheon with Mrs. Nelda Woodward, wife of WHEF co-founder Jack Woodward. In addition to a few hours of fellowship, Mrs. Woodward shared some special words about Jack's legacy, that lives on in the work of the Foundation.

Posted by Courtney Lange at Tuesday, December 25, 2018

WHEF Welcomes JPS Superintendent Dr. Errick Greene

Earlier this month, WHEF welcomed new Jackson Public School District Superintendent Dr. Errick Greene to Mississippi. Dr. Greene took the helm of the JPS system on October 1. JPS is the second largest district in Mississippi, serving 24,000 students in 54 schools.

During the meeting, we shared an overview of the mission, vision, and strategic areas of focus for WHEF. We provided Dr. Greene with a more in-depth look at the work of Get2College, with a specific focus on our center services, professional development opportunities for educators, Pilot School program, and work in the area of FAFSA completion. We also discussed the history of our Get2College work within the JPS system.

Posted by Courtney Lange at Thursday, December 20, 2018

Foundations Addressing Barriers to Education in Northeast Mississippi

“You all can set the bar and be role model for state of Mississippi,” Woodward Hines President and CEO Jim McHale said to a crowd of nearly 300 leaders and community members of Northeast Mississippi. ”Be somebody who changes the odds for all of Mississippians.”

The CREATE Foundation Commission gathered leaders and members from 17 counties for the 22nd annual State of the Region meeting in May of 2018. Featured speakers included Woodward Hines's Jim McHale and Sheldon Day, Mayor of Thomasville, Alabama.

The Commission of Northeast Mississippi has been CREATE’s major program component since 1995 to build cooperation and unity through regional community development. It is comprised of 54 volunteer leaders from 17 counties. Much like WHEF, the Commission studies data, identifies key issues, and works with numerous partners throughout the region to address issues and achieve goals and objectives.

"College education is a game changer. It ends generational poverty. It changes the future of families and it can change the face of a community and a state.  Talent development leads to economic development and economic opportunity."

While Mayor Day's speech focused on his rural city's economic accomplishments in the South, McHale's message focused on student barriers to education-- an education that would fuel a blossoming economy like Mississippi. While telling the story of three current and former students of various backgrounds, he shared how the foundation's mission of access, persistence and completion and connection to meaningful employment are critical in creating new possibilities for students across the state.  The clip below is an excerpt from the full speech.

 

[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gXvgRJh-hdk[/embed]

 

During his speech, McHale also emphasized the need to establish a strong, state or region-wide attainment goal. By creating and facilitating markers for student success, communities will not only be college-ready, but they will be equipped to contribute to the productivity of the state.

 

"By 2020, 65% of all jobs will require a postsecondary credential or degree. If every high school senior in Mississippi today attended college, our state would still not meet that 2020 goal."

 

Data Source: Georgetown Public Policy Institute, Center on Education and the Workforce.

 

As CREATE Foundation President Mike Clayborne commented on both speakers, he shared, “McHale’s organization is knocking down barriers to higher education that primarily affect children from financially challenged families. That is important because of our need to build a high quality workforce in a challenging environment.”

 

Woodward Hines is actively seeking partners, building education affinity groups, and funding strategic programs that will ultimately change the odds for students and families who continually beat them.

 

Read more about the CREATE Foundation and Commission.

 

Read a full recap from Tupelo's Daily Journal.

Posted by Courtney Lange at Friday, June 15, 2018

State of the South 2018

The following content was published and distributed by MDC, a nonprofit based in Durham, North Carolina, with its mission to help communities, organizations, and leaders close the gaps that separate people from opportunity. To read the full report, visit stateofthesouth.org or download the Executive Summary.

 

State of the South: Recovering Our Courage

To fuel their economies, Southern states now rely heavily on imported talent. In every state in the region, born-out-of-state newcomers exceed born-in-state residents in holding bachelor’s and post-graduate degrees.

In the 2018 State of the South report issued in its 50th anniversary year, MDC points out states’ dependence on imported, well-educated workers over building their own talent-development systems. While in-migrants reflect vitality, especially in metropolitan regions, says the MDC report, the South’s commitment to strengthening public schools, community colleges, and universities has eroded in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

 

The report, entitled “State of the South: Recovering our Courage,” was released at a presentation and panel discussion on Tuesday, April 10, at MDC’s headquarters. It found, for example, that in Virginia, with the highest percentage of residents with a B.A. or advanced degree in the region, nearly 50 percent of those are in-migrants compared to less than 25 percent who were born there.

 

The ratio is a reflection of a region that has fallen back after the removal of numerous barriers to opportunity for African American and low-income residents in the 1960s and ’70s led to improvements in education, income, and health. The result is communities with some of the lowest upward economic mobility rates in the nation because young people are not being adequately prepared for jobs filled by newcomers.

“We have substituted a culture of withdrawal for a culture of investment”

 

The report goes on to say “Today, we see the re-segregation of schools and the persistence of racial disparities in housing and employment, some enabled by state and federal legislation, some perpetuated by structural inequities that laws didn’t remove or relieve. The social and economic consequences of these inequities affect generations of families, particularly communities of color, and families across the region are less financially secure. The anemic economic recovery from the Great Recession is not conferring benefits to those in middle- and lower-income brackets, leaving low- and middle-income families more vulnerable to rising housing and education costs and increasing uncertainty in everything from retirement benefits to weather patterns…

 

 

Few Southern cities are achieving growth, prosperity, and inclusive economic outcomes that improve conditions across the socioeconomic spectrum; regional growth and prosperity, matched with limited inclusion of historically disadvantaged populations, will likely exacerbate social fissures produced by shifting demographics and increased income inequality,” the report finds, citing data on education, income, employment, demographics, population growth, health, and incarceration, as well as in-migration.

 

 

Much of the data is offered with comparisons to the region in the 1960s as MDC marks its 50th anniversary building the workforces of North Carolina and the South. The report looks back at how far the South has come in erasing discriminatory practices, improving its education systems, and raising income levels—and how far it has to go.

 

The report also looks at the South through three lenses critical to social and economic progress: Belonging (enabling full participation and inclusion in civic and economic institutions by all Southerners); Thriving (creating a more economically dynamic region by removing structural barriers and building support systems that generate wealth and spread its benefits); and Contributing (laying the foundation for current and future wellbeing through deliberate investment and conscious engagement of once-marginalized voices who can define their priorities).

 

About MDC

 

MDC for more than 50 years has brought together foundations, nonprofits, and leaders from government, business and the grassroots to illuminate data that highlight deeply rooted Southern challenges and help them find systemic, community solutions. Our approach uses research, consensus-building, and programs that connect education, employment, and economic security to help communities foster prosperity by creating an “infrastructure of opportunity”—the aligned systems and supports that can boost everyone, particularly those who’ve been left behind, to higher rungs on the economic ladder. MDC’s landmark State of the South reports since 1996 have shaped the economic agenda of the region, shining a spotlight on historic trends, deep-rooted inequities, and solutions that offer rural and urban communities a path forward. Read our past reports at www.stateofthesouth.org. Learn more about MDC at www.mdcinc.org.

Posted by Courtney Lange at Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Springboard to Children's College Savings Accounts

Springboard to Opportunities is partnering with Hope Enterprise Corporation Hope Credit Union, and Woodward Hines to host the 3rd Annual Run for Our Community 5K on Saturday, April 22, 2017. The race is set to kick off at 9:00 am at Dawson Elementary School with registration beginning at 8:00 am. The money raised by the event will serve as seed money to create children's college saving's account for youth in the Springboard communities.

WHEF supports Springboard and the creation of children’s savings accounts.  Research shows that children who have a savings account for college are more likely to go to college than children without savings.  It’s not about the amount of money in the account but simply having the account can dramatically increase the student’s expectations for college. Whether the funding source is the family or the community, the student knows that someone is investing in them.

About Springboard to Opportunities

Springboard To Opportunities connects families living in affordable housing with resources and programs that help them advance themselves in school, work and life. We do this by working directly with families, as well as by establishing strategic partnerships with other organizations that help residents achieve their goals.

Posted by Courtney Lange at Monday, April 9, 2018

WHEF Leadership Remembers Founder Jack Woodward

It is with great sadness that we learned of the passing of Woodward Hines Education Foundation founder Jack Woodward on February 23, 2018. Read on for Mr. Woodward’s legacy, his obituary, and remembrances from our leadership.

“Mr. Woodward’s shared vision with Herman Hines drove the creation of the Mississippi Higher Education Assistance Corporation, which gave many students access to the funds they needed to attend college. He had spent his career leading financial aid for Millsaps College, and his care for young people extended beyond the campus to all Mississippi students. During my tenure at the foundation, Mr. Woodward remained an active member of our board and a dedicated supporter of the work we do. We and thousands of past, current and future college students will be forever grateful for the hard work he did to make college accessible to so many across Mississippi.  We have truly lost a giant.”

- Jim McHale, President and CEO of the Woodward Hines Education Foundation

 

“I worked for Mr. Woodward when I was a student at Millsaps, then later returned and worked in financial aid with him for 18 years.  He was my work mentor and became a dear friend. My office was next to his, and I learned everything about caring for people by listening to how he treated others. He was always kind to them, no matter what, and he did everything in his power to make sure that the neediest students could attend college. It is a privilege to work at an organization that bears his name and will continue to serve students in Mississippi for many years to come. ”

- Ann Hendrick, Director of the Get2College Program

 

“For me, Jack Woodward will forever hold a special place. His financial aid counseling enabled me to attend Millsaps College and become the first college graduate in my family. Later I had the opportunity as a lawyer to work with Jack and Herman Hines to help them achieve their vision of creating Mississippi Higher Education Assistance Corporation and Education Services Foundation to meet the needs of students and their families. After serving as general counsel and working with Mr. Woodward until my retirement, I had the opportunity to join the boards of MHEAC and ESF. As a board member, I was so pleased to have the opportunity to participate in the decision to change the name of ESF to Woodward Hines Education Foundation to honor the contributions of Mr. Woodward and Mr. Hines. The Foundation’s signature program, Get2College, embodies Mr. Woodward’s life work of helping young people, particularly those with the greatest need, attain a higher education.”

- David Martin, Board Chair of the Woodward Hines Education Foundation

Posted by Courtney Lange at Monday, February 26, 2018

WHEF Get2College Program Receives MAPE Governor's Award

Eight Mississippi public high schools and the Woodward Hines Education Foundation's (WHEF) flagship program, Get2College, have been selected for a 2018 Governor’s Award for Outstanding School-Community Partnership by the Mississippi Association of Partners in Education (MAPE). MAPE will hosted a luncheon on Feb. 27 at the Hilton of Jackson.

“Research shows that that community-school partnerships help break down barriers that hold students back from enrolling in and graduating from college,” says Ann Hendrick, director of the Get2College program. “The pilot program works because counselors, administrators, and teachers are all providing an environment that encourages students to go to college.”

The Get2College pilot school program started in the fall of 2015 based on research by the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC). The program implements best practices for creating a college culture, including ACT preparation, college search, and the admissions application process. Its long-term goal is to increase the rates of college enrollment and graduation for its students.

The results of the pilot school program are promising: 66% of 2016 seniors enrolled in college within first year of graduating from high school, as compared to national figure of 62% for students having graduated from low income schools. The schools and districts below have been awarded for their participation in the program.

  • Bruce High School (Calhoun County SD)
  • Lake Cormorant High School (DeSoto County SD)
  • St. Martin High School (Jackson County SD)
  • Moss Point Career and Technical Center (Moss Point SD)
  • Pelahatchie Attendance Center (RCSD)
  • Taylorsville High School (Smith County SD)
  • O’Bannon High School (Western Line SD)
  • Riverside High School (Western Line SD)

 

“This partnership has been transformational for our students,” says Valerie Hennington of Smith County. “It has raised their aspirations for themselves and given them the tools to be successful in college.

Throughout this ongoing, multi-year partnership, Get2College staff brings the services it offers in its centers directly to the school sites, supporting students, families, counselors, teachers, and administrators. The curriculum consists of a three-pronged approach of workshops, special events (including visits to college campuses and college application days), and individual counseling on college planning and FAFSA completion.

View the gallery from the Mississippi Association of Partners in Education Governor’s Awards luncheon on their Facebook page and learn more at mapie.org.

Posted by Courtney Lange at Friday, February 23, 2018

WHEF Funds Transformative Student Success for Two Mississippi Community Colleges

Mississippi’s Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF) and Achieving the Dream (ATD), a national nonprofit focused on increasing community college student success, have announced a new partnership that will enable two Mississippi community colleges to join the Achieving the Dream.

Specifically, WHEF has awarded a four-year grant of $900,000 to ATD to enable two Mississippi colleges to join its premier national reform network to advance student success. As part of the ATD Network, Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College (MGCCC) and Coahoma Community College (CCC) will receive on-site visits from coaches, information about successful, high-impact practices used by peer colleges, and access to resources, all of which will help the colleges increase the number of their students who complete certificates and degrees.

At a time when state funding to Mississippi’s 15 community colleges serving 75,000 students is being reduced, it is hard for colleges to make the reforms necessary to boost retention and completion. New philanthropic support for the two Mississippi colleges arrives at a critical moment.

“We know that without a postsecondary degree, nearly half of the poorest children in Mississippi will remain in poverty. The good news is that this figure decreases dramatically—to 10 percent—with a postsecondary education,” said Jim McHale, president and CEO, Woodward Hines Education Foundation. “Our board recognizes that a college degree is a game-changer.  They want to invest in institutions like Achieving the Dream that support community colleges and enable them to better serve all students.”

Community colleges are key institutions for leveling the playing field for low-income students, students of color, and first generation students who are hoping to earn degrees and credentials that support their economic and social mobility, and that in turn, support the economic and civic health of the communities in which they live," said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “Achieving the Dream is excited about our new partnership with the Woodward Hines Education Foundation and welcomes Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College and Coahoma Community College into our network."

ATD will also offer MGCCC, CCC and the other colleges in its 2018 cohort access to a capacity-building framework and companion self-assessment that allows them to pinpoint strengths and areas for improvement across seven institutional capacities in areas such as leadership and vision, teaching and learning, and data and technology.  With the capacity framework as a guide, ATD helps colleges integrate and align any existing student success efforts with bold, holistic, institution-wide changes that research suggests can help more students succeed.

Posted by Courtney Lange at Friday, February 16, 2018

The Kresge Foundation Awards Get2College and WHEF

In June of 2016, the Kresge Foundation issued a $1.6 million national challenge grant to strengthen urban higher education ecosystems by raising FAFSA completion rates among high school seniors in cities across the country. Jackson was one of only 22 cities in the country to receive the grant, which challenged those cities to increase FAFSA completion rates by at least five percent for the graduating high school class of 2017. Get2College received $55,000 of the total grant and exceeded its goal, reaching a seven percent increase in FAFSA completion among seniors in the district.

Upon completion of the FAFSA Challenge Grant in June 2017, the Woodward Hines Education Foundation’s (WHEF) Get2College program has received a $25,000 award from the Kresge Foundation for partnering with higher education institutions to increase completion of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in the Jackson Public Schools. Kresge presented the awards in September at the 2017 National College Access Network (NCAN) conference in San Diego, CA. Other award recipients were based in Greensboro, NC; Charleston, WV; Cheyenne, WY; Columbus, OH; Los Angeles, CA; Phoenix, AZ; and San Juan, PR.

In order to achieve these results, Get2College partnered with postsecondary institutions and organizations to train and deploy a network of volunteers that helped students and families with FAFSA completion. These volunteers participated in day-long trainings and “FAFSA shadowing” before staffing FAFSA completion events at Jackson’s seven public high schools.

Key higher education partners included Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, the Mississippi Community College Board, Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, the Mississippi Office of Student Financial Aid, Belhaven University, Hinds Community College, Jackson State University, Mississippi State University, Mississippi University for Women, Tougaloo College, University of Mississippi Medical Center, and the University of Mississippi.

Posted by Courtney Lange at Thursday, September 21, 2017

Good Blue-Collar News That Donors Can Use [Article from Philanthropy Magazine]

Investments in “middle-skill” jobs can open powerful paths to prosperity

This article is from the Summer 2016 issue of Philanthropy magazine, a publication of The Philanthropy Roundtable. View the full article on Philanthropy Roundtable, here.

What kind of education does it take to obtain a middle-class wage in America today? The answer might surprise you.

On the one hand, the days of earning a living with only a high-school diploma are waning; 22 percent of young adults with this level of education are in poverty today, compared to 7 percent in 1979. While offshoring and trade are often blamed for the decline of ­working-class opportunities, the fact is that U.S. manufacturing is actually increasing its output. Technological advancements, however, are enabling machines to replace low-skill jobs. This means that ­working-class life can no longer be solidly built on toil alone—skills are required. A 2012 report by ­Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute summarizes: “In the postindustrial economy, the notion of a muscular working class has gone the way of U.S. Steel, displaced by a new class of working families in postindustrial jobs that require at least some college.”

The conventional response to this trend is to push a four-year bachelor’s degree for everyone, more or less assuming job prospects on the other side will take care of themselves. And today’s college infra­structure is in major ways built to push young people toward a bachelor’s degree over any other credential.

The unfortunate result is that many youths are prodded onto a traditional college path they are unprepared and unsuited for, leading to high dropout rates and a growing number of Americans with some college experience—and debt—but no completed degree. This approach has also failed adults in low-wage jobs who want to boost their economic prospects but can’t realistically devote four to six years to earning a degree that might or might not improve their earning ­potential. The result is that for many working adults, college is a failed and financially costly experience that doesn’t lead to useful credentials or improved life outcomes. Even some of those who persist all the way to a bachelor’s degree discover it isn’t a guaranteed path to economic prosperity. And employers find that in an era where four-year college degrees are diluted and pushed on everyone, this traditional proxy for skills and knowledge isn’t as valuable as it once was.

Yet, strikingly, there is a growing pool of jobs today—to the tune of 29 million—that require what academics call “middle skills.” These skills are generally conferred by apprenticeships or organized postsecondary education other than a bachelor’s degree. Persons capable of doing these jobs are in many places sought hungrily by employers, and the positions pay enough to launch any steadily working head of household into the middle class.

Movement-building is just one way for donors to get involved.

Despite attractive salaries and benefits, employers in many places are experiencing shortages of workers qualified for middle-skill jobs—particularly in fields like health care, advanced manufacturing, and energy. Some employers like Toyota and ExxonMobil have created their own training and credentialing programs, or have partnered with local community colleges and non­profits, in order to keep their labor pipeline filled. Other smaller businesses have created apprenticeships or worked with ­nonprofits to pull high-school graduates into programs that will leave them qualified for positions like electrician or stonemason. General appreciation of the breadth of middle-skill opportunities, however, remains low. Businesses and low-skill workers alike need help erecting programs that can bridge this economic gap.

Unfortunately, career and technical education has an image problem. In some circles technical education is associated with blue-collar jobs without much upside. With many K-12 schools defining success simply by the number of students they send to four-year colleges, the bias against career education can be pronounced.

“That’s not to say college access is bad, but if all we do is send the message that it’s college or bust, we’re not really giving the right kind of opportunities to everybody,” says Chauncy Lennon, who leads JPMorgan Chase’s philanthropic workforce development initiatives. ­Nicholas Wyman of the Institute for Workplace Skills & Innovation confirms that even though programs now exist that give students stellar credentials and career prospects, technical training remains anathema to some. “Today, ­high-schoolers hear barely a whisper about the many doors that the vocational education path can open.”

 

What donors can do

 

Enter private philanthropy. For the past year I’ve been researching the best ­donor-funded efforts throughout the nation focused on connecting workers with opportunities to enter the middle class. These programs make sure workers are ­job-ready in a basic sense, confirming they have the entry-level skills that were the focus of our previous guidebook ­Clearing Obstacles to Work: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Fostering Self-Reliance, and then offer detailed, sometimes complex, technical education that equips workers for a ­rewarding career and greater upward mobility.

Some of the existing efforts are broad and national. For example, ­JPMorgan Chase has committed $250 million over five years to further define and disseminate middle-skill career pathways. The Lumina Foundation is using an endowment of over $1 billion to help raise the percentage of Americans with a high-­quality postsecondary degree to 60 percent by 2025. These larger initiatives employ a variety of means—national gatherings where standards are set and needs are identified, collaborations between companies and educators, public campaigns and ­advocacy—to advance their missions.

The Bill & Melinda Gates ­Foundation has become involved in ways ranging from providing financial aid to collecting important data. Gates is also trying to strengthen the public image of alternative career pathways by funding research incubators like Jobs for the Future and the ACT Foundation.

But movement-building is just one way for donors to get involved. Philanthropists are also working hard to raise STEM job awareness in high school, facilitate internships with area employers, and pay for the research to understand current job opportunities and the corresponding skills necessary, among many other interventions and incremental improvements.

An example at the local level is the Pinkerton Foundation, which directs $14 million in annual giving to support career-internship opportunities, industry-specific certifications, and rigorous job-training programs that teach both the hard and soft skills needed to advance in the workplace. Focusing on at-risk youth in the New York City region, Pinkerton encourages trainers to work closely with local employers so the skill sets developed are in line with available local jobs.

Many other foundations are ­making similar investments in young people. The Claude Worthington Benedum ­Foundation is focusing on blue-collar workers in West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania, even embedding career academies into high schools. In the City of Brotherly Love, the Lenfest ­Foundation supports Penn Medicine’s volunteer ­programs for adults, college students, and teens. Students as young as 14 can volunteer over the summer at the university’s hospital, gaining exposure to well-paid careers in medicine that are currently short of qualified workers.

Business leaders are also getting involved. In Houston, local businessman Beau Pollock needed more electricians for his enterprise and started a direct relationship with YES Prep and his local KIPP charter schools. Now students showing interest in the electric profession can work directly with his company out of high school. Robert Luddy—a donor, entrepreneur, and founder of CaptiveAire Systems (America’s leading supplier of kitchen ventilation systems)—has woven apprenticeships both into his business and into his network of private schools in North Carolina. “Apprenticeship is the best of all worlds,” says Luddy, stressing the importance of on-the-job experience. As sophomores, students in Luddy’s Thales Academy can obtain a certificate in ­SolidWorks, which alone would enable them to make between $40,000 and $60,000 in the marketplace.

 

The community-college connection

Recently deceased donor and Intel co-founder Andrew Grove carved his niche by offering scholarships for career and technical education. He typically gave out 100 scholarships per year to students in community college who were ­transitioning directly to the workforce rather than a four-year school. As Grove found, improvements in community college curricula and delivery are an excellent mechanism for training the next generation of middle-skill workers.

For example, take Rio Salado ­College in Tempe, Arizona. Rio ­Salado educates over 57,000 students at any given time—30,000 of whom are accessing all of their instruction online. It’s the largest online community college in the U.S., and has classes that start on 48 dates throughout the year—an especially attractive feature for adult learners. The college offers a vast variety of programs—mobile apps programming, infant and toddler development, dental assisting, quality customer service, small business startup, and paralegal. With the help of the Gates Foundation and other donors, Rio ­Salado has peer mentors, career coaches, and other support for learners to make sure that they enroll in classes that match available ­well-paying jobs needed in the community.

Another promising example with a slightly different twist is Valencia ­College in Orlando, Florida. Leaders at the college have found that a traditional academic model—here’s a list of classes, take a few over two or so years—isn’t working well for career advancement. So instead, Valencia is doubling down and accelerating many of its programs to take around five weeks. These short bursts of training are ideal for adults who are already working. “If we take them through a series of very short tunnels, where the opportunity cost of lost wages while they’re in school is small, they’re perfectly willing to enroll,” says Valencia president Sandy Shugart. Accelerated tracks are focused on obtaining a “stackable” credential that, in various combinations, leads to a middle-skill job. Valencia’s most popular tracks are in nursing, cardiovascular technology, engineering technologies, entertainment-related technologies, criminal justice, and paralegal work.

Funding partner organizations that offer supports to keep students on track is one of the most valuable roles philanthropy can play. But the best way to mitigate barriers is to keep the program short.

In addition to accelerated options, Valencia works with its local Goodwill (see Jim Gibbons interview on page 14) to provide services like child care and transportation for students who need them—eliminating common obstacles that prevent students from persisting all the way to a useful credential. Funding partner organizations that offer these supports and keep students on track, says Shugart, is one of the most valuable roles philanthropy can play. But he stresses that the best way to mitigate some of these barriers is to keep the program

short—the longer the program, the more likely that something will come up.

Shugart describes Orlando as a juxtaposition between two ­economies—high-tech prosperous jobs and low-skilled, low-paying ones. “We have the most powerful economy in the world for putting unskilled people into ­low-paying jobs,” he says. “The problem is that these jobs are hard to move up from. It takes two body lengths to reach the next rung on the ladder. So our strategy has been to add more rungs to the ladder. We have lots of people in our community who need a very short burst of training that will move their value to an employer by $2 an hour or more.”

 

Five ways to kickstart career education

 

This concept of putting more rungs on the ladder, or “upskilling,” is gaining traction among workforce nonprofits, community colleges, and employers. I interviewed dozens of donors, experts, and nonprofit practitioners on the subject, and their remarks coalesced around five common practices:

 

Create clear pathways. Career mapping is essential, because adult workers need a discernable return on investment before they are willing to enroll in a program. Successful community colleges and other programs demonstrate each step a student needs to take to complete the program for a credential and embark on an upward career path.

Condense timeframes and increase schedule flexibility. Accelerated programs like the ones Valencia offers are very attractive to learners. In some cases, schools are condensing a nine-month class into 16 weeks. Low-income workers can’t afford to take off a year for training, but they might be able to take evening classes for four months.

Overcome negative perceptions about ­postsecondary education. ­Low-income workers might not view themselves as able to successfully swim in the waters of postsecondary education. Effective programs inspire their students and affirm that completing the credential is possible and expected.

Acknowledge and account for remedial learners. Some adult learners face the fundamental roadblock of lacking skills in the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Accelerated programs to bring them up to speed is essential to completing higher credentials.

Offer student services that make class attendance easier. The McKinsey Social Initiative has found that distance to class is the top indicator of whether a new arrival will persist. Transportation obstacles are serious. Addressing practical hurdles like that can often make or break an adult learner’s success.

Partly thanks to creative help from donors, the field of career and technical education is ready for a renaissance. Philanthropists willing to invest and explore career and technical education will be pleasantly surprised. “This isn’t your grandfather’s vocational education,” says Lucretia Murphy of Jobs for the Future, a national nonprofit expanding ­workforce opportunities. “These are good jobs. These are ­well-paying jobs. These are jobs that put people in line for promotions. These are jobs that are fulfilling.”

 


 

 

David Bass is author of the forthcoming Philanthropy Roundtable book Learning to be Useful: A Wise Giver’s Guide to Supporting Career and Technical Education, from which this is excerpted.

Posted by Courtney Lange at Tuesday, June 13, 2017

National College Access Network Highlights Get2College Program

The National College Access Network (NCAN) recently featured Get2College (G2CX) in its blog, highlighting the G2C's new effort to scale its efforts by partnering with community colleges to increase FAFSA completions statewide. The full text of the blog post is posted below or can be viewed on NCAN's blog here.

Get2College's Community Collaboration for FAFSA Completion

 

By Courtney Argenti, Graduate Policy Intern 

NCAN member Get2College is Mississippi’s recognized expert resource for college admission and financial aid advice. Its small team of 18 people covers a lot of ground — and it's about to cover more: Get2College recently partnered with community colleges to increase FAFSA completions statewide. The end goal for this collaboration is to have the institutions creating and implementing their own FAFSA completion efforts, while Get2College provides support.

In Mississippi, a community college truly lives up to its name: a college within and for the community. Many Mississippi students attend a community college at some point in their postsecondary career. Similarly, a large majority of postsecondary students in Mississippi stay in the state for their studies. “We have a saying about that here in Mississippi,” explained Kiersten Knaus, Get2College Assistant Director and College Advisor. “It’s that Mississippi mud that sticks to everybody.”

That Mississippi mud is a driving force for increasing statewide FAFSA completions: There are two state grants and one statewide scholarship that Mississippi students are eligible for if they complete the FAFSA.

“We partnered with people who we knew had a stake in getting FAFSAs completed for their students,” Knaus said. “We thought about what already exists in Mississippi that serves the entire state. That [community college network] already exists. We just want to build on that.”

Get2College met with the Mississippi Department of Education, the State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), and the Mississippi Community College Board to talk strategy for increasing FAFSA completion. Over two years, the plan is to shift Get2College’s role from leading all FAFSA completion initiatives to playing a supportive role for six of the 15 community colleges.

“Our approach to FAFSA completion is different than others’ … We do counselor professional development on the front end by educating counselors on handling effective FAFSA days,” Knaus explained.

Get2College provides training to counselors, volunteers, and other college access stakeholders on completing the FAFSA. “It’s not just going line by line and completing the FAFSA [in the trainings]," Knaus continued. "We debunk myths. We discuss important questions, like whose information you use on which part of the FAFSA."

By providing this training, Get2College hopes to hand over the reins for the six community colleges' FAFSA completion efforts. The institutions will design and implement and their own FAFSA completion events and FAFSA awareness campaigns, while Get2College will provide the support and serve as a link between high schools and community colleges.

NCAN applauds this collaboration and strategic model for FAFSA completion: It is efficient, it is empowering for communities and community colleges, and if successful, it will serve as a FAFSA completion model for the other seven community colleges in Mississippi.

Posted by Courtney Lange at Friday, June 2, 2017

Get2College Helping Boost FAFSA Completion Rate in Jackson Public School District

Get2College Helping Boost FAFSA Completion Rate in Jackson Public School District

FAFSA Completion Rate Has Increased by 15 Percent through Activities Funded by a Grant from the Kresge Foundation and National College Access Network

JACKSON, MS. – Get2College, a program that provides counseling and support services on college admission and financial aid throughout Mississippi, has helped boost the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rate among seniors in the Jackson Public School District (JPS) by more than 15 percent this year. Jackson was one of twenty-two cities in the nation to receive a FAFSA Completion Challenge grant from the Kresge Foundation and the National College Access Network (NCAN).

The goal of the challenge grants is to strengthen urban higher education ecosystems by raising FAFSA completion rates among high school seniors in cities across the country. Kresge made a $1.6 million grant to launch the program, which challenges the winning cities to increase FAFSA completion rates by at least 5 percent for the graduating high school class of 2017.

As the flagship program of the Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF), Get2College is a central component to the organization’s efforts to increase college access and entry for young people in Mississippi and support promising practices that lead to college persistence and completion.

“We are tremendously excited because we have already surpassed our initial goal of increasing the FAFSA completion rate in JPS high schools by 15 percent,” said Ann Hendrick, Director of the Get2College program. “But more than that, we are excited because students who complete a FAFSA are almost twice as likely to go to college after they graduate.

Get2College partnered with College Countdown Mississippi which is a collaboration of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL), Mississippi Department of Education (MDE), the Community College Board, and the State Office of Financial Aid. Other local organizations such as the Mississippi Association of College Registrars and Admission Officers (MACRAO), Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, the City of Jackson and Leadership Greater Jackson, sponsored by the Greater Jackson Chamber, helped to create a college culture by providing workshops, hosting college application and signing days, and promoting FAFSA completion via social media.

“I am extremely proud of the increase in participation of the FAFSA program by our high school seniors,” said JPS Interim Superintendent Dr. Fredrick Murray. “This partnership provides excellent services for our senior students and parents as they seek funding and admission to institutions of higher learning.”

Get2College has several activities planned to increase FAFSA completions among JPS seniors prior to the June 30 deadline, including FAFSA Completion Days scheduled at local high schools.

“By increasing access to college and providing the resources and support students need to graduate, we are helping Mississippi become more competitive in the region and more attractive to potential residents and businesses,” said Jim McHale, President and CEO of WHEF. “The collaborative efforts that have made this work in Jackson Public Schools so successful is a model that can be replicated to improve access, completion, and persistence in institutions of higher learning across the state.”

Posted by Courtney Lange at Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Woodward Hines Education Foundation Broadens through Recent New Hires and Internal Restructuring

 

Woodward Hines Education Foundation Broadens through Recent New Hires and Internal Restructuring

JACKSON, MS. – The Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF), formerly the Education Services Foundation, recently announced two internal promotions and three new hires. The infusion of new talent and internal reorganizing will support the foundation’s mission to help more Mississippians obtain postsecondary credentials, college certifications, and degrees that lead to meaningful employment.

Chellese Hall was named Communications Coordinator for WHEF and assists in the management of the foundation’s flagship program, Get2College, which serves students and families across the state. Hall previously served as Community Relations Manager for the Mississippi Children’s Museum. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Electronic Communications and Journalism from Belhaven University and is a board member of the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi.

Melia Dicker recently joined WHEF as the new Director of Jackson’s Get2College Center, which serves students and their families and provides support to high school counselors in central Mississippi. Dicker previously served as Communications Director for the Mississippi Arts Commission. She is a graduate of Santa Clara University and has earned a Certificate from the Else School of Management at Millsaps College.

WHEF has also promoted key individuals to new roles within the organization. Minette Ketchings has been named Director of Operations. Ketchings has worked for WHEF for more than 20 years and previously served as the foundation’s Controller. She holds Bachelor of Professional Accountancy degree from Mississippi State University and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Shanell Watson was named Associate Program Officer for WHEF. Watson has worked for the foundation for more than 10 years, most recently serving as the Data Analyst and Technical Coordinator. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Master of Accountancy from Millsaps College and is a Certified Public Accountant.

“We are excited about the new additions to the foundation and the new roles that staff members are taking on,” said Jim McHale, President and CEO of WHEF. “Our staff’s diverse experience and expertise are essential to realizing our vision of helping Mississippians secure the training and education beyond high school that will allow them to advance their quality of life and strengthen our state.”

Posted by Courtney Lange at Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Education Services Foundation Announces Corporate Name Change to Woodward Hines Education Foundation

Education Services Foundation Announces Corporate Name Change to Woodward Hines Education Foundation

Name Change Signals Major Step in Repositioning as a More Active Partner in College Access and Success

 JACKSON, MS. – Education Services Foundation, a nonprofit working to help Mississippi students plan and pay for college, has announced that it is changing its name to the Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF).

The new name honors the vision and legacy of Jack Woodward and J. Herman Hines, both Mississippians instrumental in originally forming the foundation as a catalyst for improving access to postsecondary education for residents across the state.

“With this name change, we convey the tremendous contribution these two great men have made in improving college access and success in our state,” said David Martin, chair of the WHEF board of directors. “We are proud to continue the extremely critical work Jack Woodward and Herman Hines started nearly four decades ago.”

The foundation’s flagship program, Get2College, has centers in Jackson, Ocean Springs, and Southaven that reach more than 45,000 Mississippi students annually, providing individual counseling on college admission and financial aid.

“Our data shows the work we are doing around higher education access makes a difference for students in communities across the state,” said Jim McHale, president and CEO of WHEF. “However, we also know the higher education graduation rate for Mississippi students lags behind the national rate, which is why we want to continue to make smart investments in promising practices that not only increase access, but also support persistence and completion.”

In 2016, only 23 percent of Mississippians graduate from two-year colleges within three years, and only half graduate from four-year colleges within six years. According to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, 65 percent of all jobs will require postsecondary education and training by 2020, which underscores the need to increase the number of Mississippians who obtain quality postsecondary credentials, certificates and degrees.

“We are excited about expanding our work with public and private sector partners to increase the number of Mississippians with the training and education needed to create long-term growth in the state,” said McHale. “That’s why Jack Woodward and Herman Hines started this work, and it’s why we are committed to continue building upon their vision.”

Posted by Courtney Lange at Tuesday, May 24, 2016