An education advocacy organization based in the Adirondacks is working to raise $1.5 million to help rural students in New York and Vermont go to college.
Essex, New York-based College for Every Student, or CFES, was formed 30 years ago to help underserved and rural students attend college. President Rick Dalton says the organization’s latest initiative, called North Country Brilliant Pathways, will provide 20 elementary, middle and high schools in rural Vermont and Northeastern New York with a three-year college readiness program. “CFES is committed to raise $1.5 million to work with 20 schools in northern New York and schools across the state of Vermont. Each school must complete a simple one page application. We’ll select 20 schools based on community need and the school’s commitment to change the status quo. Our vision for the North Country Brilliant Pathways Program is to create a national model of excellence that will inspire and ultimately lift up not just twenty North Country schools but hundreds of other schools across rural America.”
Former New York Governor George Pataki lives in the Essex area and is an advisor to CFES. “CFES’ Brilliant Pathways has outlined a program where 20 North Country school districts are going to have the chance to have significant expertise provided to them, families, their students, their community so they can choose the right path forward so to having a better future. This isn’t just about enrolling people and signing things up and having another program. This is about changing lives, teaching essential skills, showing the pathway to opportunity, showing how a better career, a better future and better education can be achieved in every community and every town and village throughout the North Country. It’s a unique opportunity at a unique time.”
A program director will be assigned to each school and a variety of resources will be made available including partnerships with colleges and businesses. Professional development and career readiness training will be available for teachers, students and their families. Brilliant Pathways Program Director Brett McClelland says each rural school will also be partnered with an urban school. “The partnership is going to provide the diversity that is not seen in these rural communities and it’s going to give insight and preparation into you know when you get on a college campus you’re finding often a very diverse community. And for rural students coming from a non-diverse that’s a big challenge for them. So this partnership is going to provide mentorship. There’s also going to be just insight into how a day-to-day life differs and is also similar in urban community compared to a rural community.”
McClelland adds all eligible schools are being notified of the program. “The application is a very short three question application. It’s schools that are committed to changing the status quo and how you’re going to commit to that opportunity. The application talks about targeting specific students and how that will work and then how the program will work in every school because it’s going to look different in an elementary school as it would in a middle or a high school. This is a great opportunity for the North Country. The work with CFES has found itself all across the nation and even internationally. This gives an opportunity to expand what we do.”
Schools must submit applications by May 14th and recipients will be announced June 1st. The three-year program will launch this fall.