For one Saturday in Fort Lauderdale, success sounded a lot like exuberant high school marching bands and spirited rounds of FAFSA-themed “Family Feud”.
On October 12, Broward Bridge 2 Life (B2L) — Broward County’s local college access network (LCAN) — hosted its inaugural B2L The Sound of Success Expo at the Museum of Discovery and Science.
About 1,250 students and parents attended the free event, which included a College and Career Marketplace featuring about 50 postsecondary institutions, college and career readiness resources, and prospective employers. The expo kicked off with a “Battle of the Bands” between Blanche Ely, Fort Lauderdale, and Stranahan high schools.
The College and Career Marketplace featured about 50 postsecondary institutions, college and career readiness resources, and prospective employers
Blanche Ely, Fort Lauderdale, and Stranahan high schools squared off during the Battle of the Bands
Colleen Lockwood, co-chair of B2L, said the expo’s energy was a reflection of the planning process for the event. “I believe our energy comes from our following a collective impact model of shared participation from a common agenda,” Lockwood said. “The organization of the event began with the why — why we were hosting the event and what outcomes we hoped to achieve.”
B2L’s objectives for the 2019-20 academic year include raising awareness of resources for college and career readiness, raising the number of scholarships high school seniors apply for, and boosting the district’s FAFSA completion rate.
“This event tackled all those objectives,” Lockwood said.
In addition to the College and Career Marketplace, the expo hosted scholarship and personal statement workshops along with a FAFSA lab that allowed students and their families to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
Attendees competed for prizes during several rounds of FAFSA Family Feud, which featured two teams vying to come up with the most popular answers to financial aid-themed questions.
Students answered financial aid-related questions during the FAFSA Family Feud competition
The FAFSA lab that allowed students and their families to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Carol Lopez, co-chair of B2L, said planning for the event began in June and was spearheaded by B2L’s Student Success Network working group.
While B2L serves students in the sixth-largest public school system in the nation, Lopez said the key to the successful collaboration in planning the event was greater focus among the various partner organizations.
“The planning process was a lot more intentional and a lot more thought-out,” Lopez said. “Everyone in our planning committee was extremely dedicated.”
Lockwood added that the ideas to include FAFSA Family Feud along with Spanish, Creole, and Portuguese language translators available in the FAFSA lab came as a result of the work group meetings. “It became a much more robust event” because of the collaboration, Lockwood said.
Lopez also credited the BRACE (Broward Advisors for Continuing Education) Cadets who served as volunteer staff for the event for helping make the expo a success. BRACE Cadets are high school students who implement special projects in their schools to help their peers get ready for college, career, and to succeed in life after high school.
“These students were promoting the expo on social media and they are very involved in our steering committee,” Lopez said.
The expo, with its 1,250 attendees out of nearly 1,500 registrants, far exceeded the organizers’ expectations and served as a strong introduction to Broward’s LCAN.
“All in all, it was truly an outstanding first-time exposure to B2L and our work for many in our community,” Lockwood said.