The Central Florida College Access Network (CFCAN) and Heart of Florida United Way (HFUW) brought together approximately 100 regional college and university leaders, community services providers, high school counselors and students for the GradNation Summit on September 9.  The event was held at the Orlando Museum of Art in Orlando.

The goal of the summit was to increase knowledge of barriers and to develop solutions to support students graduating from high school in order to increase students’ access, persistence, and attainment of postsecondary degrees and high quality credentials needed for the 21st Century workforce.The summit stressed the non-academic challenges facing low-income, first generation and underserved minority students.  Attendees left the event with local graduation, access, persistence and attainment data; actions their organizations can take to support student graduation and postsecondary enrollment; and a better understanding of CFCAN.

Florida CAN’s Troy Miller presented “Central Florida By the Numbers,” revealing key trends, challenges and opportunities for improving college access for Central Florida students.  Other presentations included remarks by Lane Russell, Director of Community Engagement for America’s Promise Alliance, and a riveting student panel moderated by Johnathan Allen of Road Trip Nation.  Concurrent sessions were offered on financial aid and FAFSA, pathways to student success, and community dialogue.  The day concluded with a powerful call to action by Ray Larson, Vice President of Collective Impact for the Heart of Florida United Way, for community leaders to work together on aligned community goals and next steps.

The GradNation campaign was launched by America’s Promise Alliance in 2010 to raise awareness and inspire action for high school dropout prevention.  GradNation’s goal is for a 90 percent nationwide high school graduation rate by the Class of 2020, with no school graduating fewer than 80 percent of its students on time.  GradNation also aims for dramatic increases in postsecondary enrollment and graduation.

Florida CAN salutes Central Florida CAN and the Heart of Florida United Way on an inspiring and successful summit!

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