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.