By the time Cedrick Monfleury graduated from Miramar High School in Broward County this past summer, he’d put a lot more time and energy into finishing 12th grade than he had into planning what he was going to do next.
Cedrick, 19, was born in Orlando but moved to his family’s native Haiti at a young age, where he remained until June 2021.
“I came back (to the U.S.) last year to finish high school, but I wasn’t really thinking about college,” Cedrick said. “I didn’t really know that much about it.”
That changed shortly after Cedrick’s high school graduation thanks to summer programming from Bridge 2 Life (B2L), the local college access network (LCAN) serving Broward, that offered one-on-one counseling for recently graduated seniors and their families to help them enroll in college by the fall.
During a six-week term that began on June 20, BRACE Advisors completed nearly 2,400 appointments with students like Cedrick and their parents. BRACE (Broward Advisors for Continuing Education) Advisors work with school counselors in the district to help students in their preparation for life after high school, which made them the perfect choice for this particular job.
“The reason BRACE Advisors worked out so well is because this is something they do during their work hours,” said Tron Lippett, B2L’s Operational Lead. “The resources are there, and it just requires an entity such as ourselves to come up with a program, pilot it, and push it out.”
B2L’s summer melt programming was possible thanks to a National College Attainment Network Grant funded by the Kresge Foundation that sought to mitigate the nationwide slide in college enrollment due to COVID-19.
In addition to Class of 2022 seniors in Broward, B2L’s summer melt programming was open to seniors who graduated in 2020 and 2021.
“Those were the years that were most impacted by the pandemic, so including students from 2020 and 2021 was important to us,” Lippett said. “We didn’t want to lose those kids.”
Between the summers of 2021 and 2022, B2L conducted research with parents to learn how they felt about the challenges and opportunities for their high school-age kids. B2L specifically sought input from parents of juniors in high schools fed by Title 1 middle schools.
“Instead of asking them to check boxes, we asked open-ended questions like, ‘What do you need?’ and ‘How can we help?’ in an affirmative way. Fundamental to the goals of our research was empowering parents to share what they believed were the most important priorities,” said Colleen Lockwood, B2L’s Collective Impact Leader.
Although the responses weren’t surprising, they helped establish the template for B2L’s summer melt programming. In addition to access to financial resources for college, parents shared that their children would greatly benefit from having mentor/adviser resources.
“This aligned with what we knew,” Lockwood said. “In a school district where the student to counselor ratio is 524:1 — and when we know one-on-one support has positive impact — having BRACE Advisers conduct individual outreach made perfect sense. We know these kids need individual support, wraparound services, and some hand-holding.”
BRACE Advisors helped students and families this past summer with a variety of needs. That included everything from providing aid with completing the FAFSA and submitting college applications to helping students deal with feelings of anxiety about going to college and assisting parents who were seeking advice on how to encourage their child to enroll in a postsecondary institution.
The program featured four full-time BRACE Advisors meeting with students remotely, via telephone, or in person during either a daytime (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) or evening block (4-8 p.m.)
Lippett said about 15 BRACE Advisors had expressed interest in participating in B2L’s inaugural summer melt programming. As a result, one of the items on his wish list is incorporating B2L’s summer melt programming into the academic year.
“Doing this after hours during the school year allows students to more easily hit and take advantage of those markers that are right in front of them,” Lippett said.
Although Broward College was the predominant college of choice during B2L’s summer program, BRACE Advisors also met with students planning to attend other institutions in the state, including Florida Memorial University, St. Thomas University, Broward Technical Colleges, University of Florida, and Florida International University.
After meeting with his BRACE Advisor at Miramar High, Cedrick ended up enrolling at FIU, where he is currently majoring in civil engineering.
He’s also working part-time during the fall semester, but he credits B2L’s summer program for getting him hungry to be on a college campus.
“I’m already learning so much, including what I’m good at,” Cedrick said. “I don’t want to be working at McDonald’s for too much longer because I really love being in college.”
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