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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

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

Corporate Name Change Announcement to WHEF

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