As 2017 Approaches, Support Students Like Shondranell

From our Executive Director

Executive Director Paris Woods

Dear Friends,

As December draws to a close, we are celebrating a busy and impactful year.

In 2016, we launched programs with Loyola University, the University of New Orleans, and five local high schools — which means that we get to work with students like Shondranell Brown.

I met Shondranell in August.

A first-generation college student, she was excited to be at Loyola, but wasn’t sure where to begin when it came to tackling all of the challenges she found when she got there.

She couldn’t afford to buy her $160 math textbook and started to get behind in her work.

She also works 25 hours per week at Smoothie King to afford her monthly tuition payments. She thinks about the bill a lot, and what will happen if she doesn’t earn enough money to pay it.

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Shondranell Brown, Loyola University ’21

There were many times this semester when social stressors, financial obligations, and academic adjustments felt like too much to handle.

Luckily, Shondranell was able to turn to her College Beyond college success coach, Erica Martinez.

They set up Google calendar to manage various academic and work commitments. Erica showed her how to keep a running to-do list and shared mindfulness tips for the times when stress set in.

Together they reviewed Shondranell’s financial aid and went to speak with her advisor. They helped Shondranell get a voucher to purchase the remaining textbook she needed.

Most important, Erica was there to listen when Shondranell needed it.

Via text messages, social media snaps, and impromptu meetings, Shondranell was able to access Erica at the times she needed her most and came to view her as a trusted advisor and friend.

Shondranell is still in college today, gearing up for her second semester this spring. And not only did she pass first semester, but she earned a 3.3 GPA!

With your support, she can continue to get the encouragement and support she needs to tackle freshman year and build the skills and confidence to keep going with her college career.

Help students like Shondranell by making a year-end gift today.

$1,000 provides coaching to a student for an entire year
$500 buys books for a semester
$120 one-time or $10/month pays an important fee, like Orientation
$60 one-time or $5/month covers the cost of a peer mentor for one college student
$25 enrolls three students in our mass-texting campaign

You can make a one-time donation or sign up to give monthly on the College Beyond website.

Thank you for your support, and Happy New Year!

Warmly,

Paris Woods
Co-founder & Executive Director

 


College Beyond Guest Blog at NSNO: What TOPS Cuts Mean for New Orleans Students

This year, Louisiana cut funding for TOPS, the statewide college scholarship fund. This effects our students and families in important, often disproportionate ways.

As part of our advocacy efforts on behalf of our students, College Beyond is a member of the growing Louisiana College Access Coalition, which has come together in support of preserving TOPS funding.

This week, coalition member New Schools for New Orleans (NSNO) invited Executive Director Paris Woods to guest blog about the impact TOPS cuts have for New Orleans students.

Paris writes, “The Taylor Opportunity Program for Students (TOPS) provides full-tuition scholarships to students who meet set academic benchmarks in high school. Originally founded to help low-income students afford college, the program quickly expanded to serve students from any socioeconomic background. Today, 41% of TOPS recipients are from families with annual incomes of $100,000 or more. Given the rising costs of the program and dramatic budget shortfalls, the legislature voted to reduce TOPS funding by 30% with most of the cuts going into effect this spring.

These reductions will hit hard for low-income students. Consider that in 2016, the maximum Pell grant is $5,815 while the typical public college cost of attendance, including tuition, fees, room, and board, is nearly $16,000. LSU has the highest graduation rate in Louisiana and costs in-state students $22,000 a year to attend. These costs nearly put college out-of-reach for the 39% of young people in Orleans parish who live below the poverty line.”

Tight budgets mean tough decisions. In the case of TOPS, we believe Louisiana should prioritize funding to low-income students to continue to support equitable college access for all its youth.

As Paris concludes, “In an ideal world, we could fully fund the TOPS program. If financial constraints persist, however, a tiered system that prioritizes students from low-income backgrounds will provide the most equitable access to college for students who have otherwise earned admission and simply need financial assistance to attend.”

Read the full post here. Many thanks to NSNO for amplifying this important message.

College Beyond’s work is made possible through the generous support of our donors and their belief in the capacity of the young people in our city. Learn more about our community of support on our investors page.

Join in our mission by making a tax-deductible donation today.

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Donation Total: $25

 

 


Propeller Demo Day: Check Out Our Pitch!

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Photo credit: 4pt0 Schools

Demo Day was a great way to close out a fast and terrific fall semester with the Accelerator at Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation.

Watch Paris’s pitch-practice version of the College Beyond presentation here!

Each team in our cohort had the chance to pitch its venture to a full house at the Broad Theater. Many thanks to everyone who came out to support, including Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Councilmember LaToya Cantrell.

College Beyond’s work is made possible through the generous support of our donors and their belief in the capacity of the young people in our city. Learn more about our community of support on our investors page.

Join in our mission by making a tax-deductible donation today.

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Donation Total: $25


GPOA Commits $300,000 to College Beyond, Cowen Institute, Stand for Children in Three Year Partnership

College Beyond is delighted to announce a new, three-year partnership grant from the GPOA Foundation to support New Orleans youth accessing and completing higher education.

GPOA’s $300,000 commitment supports an innovative three-year partnership between College Beyond, the Cowen Institute and Stand for Children. Each of these local organizations assists students and families on their path to college.

Through the GPOA grant, College Beyond and the Cowen Institute are launching a college counselor training program for local counselors and convening college counseling and college persistence coalitions that are open to all practitioners in the city. Stand for Children will offer workshops for parents and families on college readiness and financial aid. College Beyond will help students from partner high schools to complete college enrollment and will coach students at local universities through their first year of college.

We are grateful to GPOA for their visionary support of this collaboration!

College Beyond’s work is made possible through the generous support of our donors and their belief in the capacity of the young people in our city. Learn more about our community of support on our investors page.

Join in our mission by making a tax-deductible donation today.

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Donation Total: $25


Lang Family Foundation Lends Long-Distance Support

We are excited to share the recent receipt of a surprise contribution from the Lang Family Foundation of Sacramento, CA.

A donor-advised family fund, the Lang Family Foundation seeds early support to education-related work nationally. In the past, they have supported the social impact pitch competition at Propeller: A Force for Social Innovation.

We are thrilled at the surprise gift, and thank the Lang Family Foundation for their support of New Orleans youth and social ventures.

College Beyond’s work is made possible through the generous support of our donors and their belief in the capacity of the young people in our city. Learn more about our community of support on our investors page.

Join in our mission by making a tax-deductible donation today.

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Personal Info

Donation Total: $25

 


Persisting Together: Meet the City-Wide College Persistence Collaborative

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Mutuality is one of College Beyond’s core values because we believe that we are better when we listen to the many voices at the table and work together. We strive to do this across all the areas of our work: with students, with partner high schools and colleges, and with other practitioners across the city.

And we are very fortunate to have amazing, mission-driven collaborators: college persistence professionals from a group of organizations who are all committed to learning fast, innovating fast, and making the greatest possible impact in college students’ lives.

This year, we are partnering with the Cowen Institute to launch a city-wide College Persistence Collaborative. What this means is that, at regular intervals throughout the year, we get to sit down and talk shop with brilliant folks from Collegiate Academies, KIPP Through College: New Orleans, and College Track New Orleans.

In these meetings (like the one today!), we talk about common challenges, brainstorm solutions, and support one another in the work of helping New Orleans students succeed in college.

As we like to say around here: To. Through. Together.

College Beyond’s work is made possible through the generous support of our donors and their belief in the capacity of the young people in our city. Learn more about our community of support on our investors page.

Join in our mission by making a tax-deductible donation today.

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Donation Total: $25


This Giving Tuesday, Student Da’ja Simmons Explains the College Beyond Impact

This Giving Tuesday, intrepid Cohen College Prep 2015 valedictorian Da’ja Simmons shares her experiences with College Beyond — and requests your support!


dajasimmons2 Hi! My name is Da’ja Simmons, and I am writing as a College Beyond student to ask for your help.

Despite great challenges at home, I was the valedictorian of my high school and I signed up for a tough pre-med course load in my first year at the University of Louisiana – Lafayette (UL) to start my dream of becoming an OB/GYN.

Even though I did well in high school, I had a tough time adjusting to the workload and making everything fit with my schedule. There were times I wasn’t sure college was for me.

When I was stressing and contemplating about returning to UL, my college success coach, Erica, was there to guide me and give me advice.

dajasimmons1Erica’s my go-to person. I couldn’t have done it without her!

Please consider donating to College Beyond this week so that more students like me can get the help we need to achieve our dreams of earning a college degree.

Please give today!

$1,000 provides coaching to a student for an entire year
$500 buys books for a semester
$120 one-time or $10/month pays an important fee, like Orientation
$60 one-time or $5/month covers the cost of a peer mentor for one college student
$25 buys treats for a group coaching session

You can make a one-time donation or sign up to give monthly on the College Beyond donation page.

With sincere thanks,

Da’ja Simmons

University of Louisiana – Lafayette, Class of 2019

P.S. I know that many worthy organizations are requesting your support right now. Any amount helps!


Keller Family Foundation Renews Program Support

We are delighted to announce that the Keller Family Foundation has made a renewal grant to College Beyond in support of our 2016-2017 programs.

A founding investor in our organization, the Keller Family Foundation is a local charitable trust focused on sustaining and improving the Greater New Orleans region, with particular emphasis in the areas of education, youth development, human services, and public affairs. We are grateful for KFF’s continued support, which is focused on our 2016-2017 student coaching cycle.

College Beyond’s work is made possible through the generous support of our donors and their belief in the capacity of the young people in our city. Learn more about our community of support on our investors page.

Join in our mission by making a tax-deductible donation today.

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Donation Total: $25


High School Program Update: Counselors in Action

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Cowen Institute Executive Director Amanda Hill opens the Nov. 10 training.

This week, College Beyond and the Cowen Institute were excited to co-host the second in our year-long workshop series for school counselors at our partner public high schools here in New Orleans.

As a learning community for counseling professionals, the series focuses on college access, financial aid, and laying the groundwork in high school to help students persist in college over the long run. Between trainings, counselor coach Lauren Hitt meets with each school team to directly support continuous improvement unique to each campus.

We are so honored to partner with this dedicated group of professional counselors and to share in the process of learning from each other in service of New Orleans students.

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College Beyond’s work is made possible through the generous support of our donors and their belief in the capacity of the young people in our city. Learn more about our community of support on our investors page.

Join in our mission by making a tax-deductible donation today.

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Personal Info

Donation Total: $25


Student Profile: Meet Rana Thabata

Rana Thabata is a leader. We sat down with the College Beyond freshman to learn about her first-year experiences at Loyola University and her vision for the future of college access and persistence in New Orleans.

Rana Thabata is a freshman at Loyola University New Orleans.

Rana Thabata is a freshman at Loyola University New Orleans.

CB: What made you choose Loyola? What are you planning to major in, and why?

RT: Loyola was the right choice because it is home to an overwhelmingly kind and caring community. My older sister was there and would always rave about how Loyola had so much to offer. I chose Loyola because I thought of it as a place I can thrive, it was small enough to make my mark on. I am currently a Political Science major, and I am most interested in studying Social and Public Policy because I want to one day write policy and improve the quality of life for those who experience hardships related to race, class, and/or gender.

…I am most interested in studying Social and Public Policy because I want to one day write policy and improve the quality of life for those who experience hardships…

CB: What’s the best part of freshman year so far?

RT: The best part of my freshman year so far is the relationships that I have made. I never expected to make friends so fast coming into a brand new environment. When I got to Loyola, I was able to meet such amazing people that were in the same boat I was in, and it felt good to have people who understood the struggle of adjusting to a new environment. I have also made friends with upperclassmen who are so kind, and tell you that if you ever needed help with anything, they would be there. Going to a small school meant that I would have smaller classes, and it feels great when your professor knows your name and gives you advice about anything.

The best part of my freshman year so far is the relationships that I have made. I never expected to make friends so fast coming into a brand new environment.

CB: How has it felt to have coaching meetings with Ms. Erica?

RT: Working with Ms. Erica through College Beyond has been absolutely amazing. To know that there is someone who cares about how you are doing, and checks on you frequently feels great. She is a support system I never expected to have entering college. Whenever we get together we talk about my classes, things I am involved in or thinking about getting involved in, or any problems I am having in general. She always has open ears, and she always has the best advice. Her coaching has helped me with time management, and just handling how I deal with certain situations.

CB: You have an internship at 4pt0 Schools this semester! What made you interested in doing an internship? What are you learning?

RT: I knew that the four years you spend in college was a time to not only earn a degree, but also to gain experience. I knew I wanted to intern within my freshman and sophomore year, and when I met Ms. Erica for the first time, she told me about how College Beyond has worked a non-profit named 4pt0 Schools.  As I was reading about it, I came across the internship application and I instantly applied. It has been wonderful so far. I am learning about all the different programs people are creating to help education.

CB: I hear you are interested in starting a college persistence non-profit one day! Can you share a little about your passion for that and what you hope to achieve?

RT: It is incredible to be able to intern for 4pt0 because it finds, trains, and invests in passionate people solving the most important challenges in education. I am passionate about creating a non-profit that helps stellar students from low income high schools with the college and scholarship application process. When I was a senior in high school, I didn’t think I was capable of getting into schools like the Ivy League schools and it was because I had no clue about the process. I want students to know that they have the potential to make it to these schools with the correct resources.

I am passionate about creating a non-profit that helps stellar students from low income high schools with the college and scholarship application process.

CB: Hundreds of high school seniors across New Orleans are applying to college right now. You’re already through that process! What advice would you share with them?

RT: I would tell them to start applying to college now, the earlier, the better. I would tell them to do their research, and to go on tours, they have to be able to see themselves at that school for the next four years. I would tell them not to stress about it, that they will end up where they belong. I would also tell them that they should ask students at the schools they are looking at about their experiences so far.

College Beyond’s work is made possible through the generous support of our donors and their belief in the capacity of the young people in our city. Learn more about our community of support on our investors page.

Join in our mission by making a tax-deductible donation today.

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Personal Info

Donation Total: $25