On a crisp December morning in the nation’s capital last week, the International Trade Center bustled with excitement as college presidents, school superintendents, nonprofit CEOs and education leaders from across the country gathered to celebrate the White House’s College Opportunity Day of Action, with one a common goal—to dramatically increase college opportunity for all students in America.  Building on the White House’s efforts to increase college access and attainment, President Obama and the First Lady hosted the College Opportunity Day of Action on December 4.  President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and Department of Education Secretary Julian Castro, among others, spoke passionately about the need to increase opportunities for low income and first generation college students to ensure that all Americans have access to the education needed to participate in the 21st century workforce.

Answering the White House’s call to action, institutions and organizations from across the country made over 600 commitments to boost college completion, form K-16 partnerships, strengthen STEM education, and Increase college and career counseling.  Florida CAN is one of 24 Florida institutions and organizations committing to increase college access and completion for Florida students.  We are excited about the many innovative plans to boost college access and success in Florida and look forward to celebrating their accomplishments in 2015 and beyond.

Here is a brief summary of the 21 commitments that will impact Florida students.  You can find a full listing of the Florida commitments here, as well as the full report of all commitments made at the White House College Opportunity Summit here.

College Completion: 

Aspen Prize 2020 Completion CollectiveBroward College, Indian River State College, Santa Fe College and Valencia College are among 15 winning and finalist colleges for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence that are committed to graduating an additional 6,600 college students by 2020, including significant numbers  from disadvantaged backgrounds.  Each of the 15 participating colleges has established completion goals based on the specific initiatives and priorities of their campuses.

The Associated Colleges of the South:  Rollins College, a member of the Associated Colleges of the South, joins 16 private, nonprofit institutions dedicated to collectively producing 3,000 additional graduates by 2020 and 4,500 additional graduates by 2025.  Actions will include strategies for reducing costs and tuitions; innovative computer-mediated teaching practices to improve student learning performance; and addressing issues of enrollment, retention, and completion rates for low income students.

The Florida Consortium of Metropolitan Research Institutions: Florida International University, the University of Central Florida, and the University of South Florida will aim to increase the collective six-year graduation rate of the three institutions from 54 percent in 2012-2013 to 71 percent in 2020 and 76 percent by 2025. Overall, this will produce an additional 5,642 graduates by 2020 and a total of 7,742 graduates by 2025.

Hispanic Serving Institutes Collaborative:  Miami Dade College is one of six Hispanic serving institutions committed to producing 36,465 additional graduates by 2020.  The collaborative will reach its goal by increasing the follow by 10 percent over 2014:  the overall 6 year graduation rate; the 4 year transfer rate; and the graduation rate for 2-year degrees.  Additionally, it will reduce the current achievement gap by half.

Ideas42:  Valencia College is one of five higher education institutions working with Ideas42, a nonprofit organization specializing in behavioral science, to design innovative solutions for the higher education system—and in particular, the financial aid system.

Valencia College is also partnering with community colleges in New York and Arizona to produce 6,171 additional graduates by 2025 by helping faculty expand their teaching effectiveness to successfully help students learn.

Single Stop:  Miami Dade College is one of 24 colleges nationwide committed to producing a total of 100,000 additional graduates by 2025, through developing a learning community to address financial barriers to college completion by modernizing student services and financial aid delivery systems.

University Innovation Alliance:  The University of Central Florida is one of 11 universities committed to scaling predictive analytics-based interventions that have proven successful on three member campuses, using such predictive analytics to inform university decisions and academic planning to increase student access, retention, and success.

K-16 Partnership Commitments:

Duval County Public Schools:  Duval County Public Schools, in partnership with The University of North Florida, Florida Department of Education Office of Student Financial Aid, Florida College Access Network, the City of Jacksonville, and the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, commits to deepening existing student-centered initiatives to increase college access and success, with a focus on financial aid literacy, college admissions counseling, “college chats” with middle and high school students, and parental engagement learning academies.  The partnership’s goals are to increase the percentage of students completing the FAFSA from 40% to 75%; increase the percentage of students applying to two or more colleges by 10% over the baseline year and 15% over year 1; increase the percentage of students enrolling in a postsecondary option by 5% over the baseline year, to 80% by 2018-19; and increase the percentage of students not needing remediation in reading from 80% to 90%, and in mathematics, from 60% to 70%.

Seminole State College—Seminole County Public Schools:  These Seminole County education institutions commit to reducing the number on incoming SCPS freshmen who need remedial English courses from 8 percent to 0 percent within five years.  Additionally, Seminole State will introduce five initiatives to increase access and graduation rates, including early alert systems to identify at-risk students and streamlined transitions from SCPS high school to college programs through electronic transcripts.

STEM Commitments:

Achieving the Dream and Jobs for the Future:  Miami Dade College is one of several higher education institutions across the country partnering with Achieving the Dream and Jobs for the Future in the launch and strengthening of approximately 75 pathways to STEM middle-skills careers by scaling up the STEM Regional Collaborative model in three new states and accelerating the implementation of structured middle-skill STEM pathways through In-State Learning.

Barry University:  Barry University commits in interventions to increase STEM graduation rates by 10 – 15 percent by 2018, particularly for low-income, women, and underrepresented minority students.  Barry’s focus includes developing a holistic engagement program to provide outreach and opportunity structures that “fill the gap” for students who lack the pre-college academic preparation and developmental education necessary for academic and professional success.

Broward College:  Broward College commits to increasing Information Technology program completion by 50 percent, increasing Engineering Technology programs by 100 percent above current rates, increasing STEM-focused Associates degree track enrollment by 25 percent and completion by 15 percent, and increasing the number of STEM programs offered by Broward College by 25 percent, all within five years.  Broward will utilize a mix of student recruitment and retention strategies as well as offer free or low cost summer programs to increase middle and high school students’ interest in and preparation for STEM careers.

Florida International University:  FIU commits to increase overall STEM graduation rates by 10 percent by taking effective models of peer-led and active learning in smaller environments to scale across disciplines. Within a year, 50 percent of the STEM majors will experience evidence-based instruction and all students will experience evidence-based instruction in at least one course in three years.  This is projected to reduce individual course failure rates by at least 20 percent within 2 years of implementation.

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University:  FAMU commits to increasing its enrollment and STEM degree production in the areas of computing and IT by 25 percent by 2018, building on the recently established partnership between FAMU and Florida State University to create the Florida Information Technology Center (FITC) Alliance.  The FITC Alliance will engage academic (high schools, community colleges and universities in Florida) and industry (public and private employers) partners to collaborate to increase recruitment efforts and retention and graduation rates in the IT and computing disciplines, with support from the Florida Board of Governors.

Stetson UniversityStetson University commits to the launch of a new Master of Arts in Teaching program to contribute to the nation’s need for excellent K-12 STEM teachers, which will reach hundreds of students over the next decade.

University of South Florida:  Within the next five years, USF commits to increasing the number of graduates in the STEM fields to a total of more than 2600, with an increase of participation of underrepresented groups by more than 170 Hispanics, by nearly 90 African-Americans, and more than 230 Caucasian female students.  The initiative will implement a multi-faceted evidence-based program developed by a 12-member planning team and build on established partnerships with Hillsborough County Public Schools and Hillsborough County Community College.

Counseling Commitments:

Florida College Access Network:  Florida CAN commits to join forces with national and regional partners to provide college and career readiness training for Florida school counselors, direct service providers, and mentors. The initiative will focus on training to build a college-going culture for all students; college, career, and academic planning; and financial aid and college applications. Trainees will then be better prepared to provide college and career readiness assistance to the students and families they serve. The initiative is anticipated to increase college enrollment rates, contributing to Florida CAN’s Big Goal (also known as Goal 2025) for at least 60% of all working-age Floridians to hold high-quality, postsecondary degrees or credentials by the year 2025.

Florida School Counselor Association (FSCA):  FSCA is implementing a new initiative to systematically offer regular and timely college and career readiness (CCR) professional development to school counselors throughout the state of Florida.  The recently formed CCR committee will offer CCR professional development across the state and through webinars, as well as explore ways that FSCA can reach the most school counselors with timely CCR information.  Florida CAN is a partner of FSCA in this initiative.  FSCA’s 2015 convention will be titled, “CCR: Skills for Living, Learning and Earning,” with a focus on CCR interventions that school counselors can use with grades pre-K-12.

Miami Dade College:  Through its Pre-College Advisors (PCA) program, Miami Dade College plans to increase efforts to improve the transition of seniors from high school to college by providing proactive advising to high school seniors as well as enriched outreach activities at targeted schools across Miami-Dade County, with the goal to increase the number of students applying to and enrolling at MDC by 5% in the 2014-2015 academic year.

University of North Florida:  UNF will provide full scholarships for eligible high school students to attend UNF; develop a dual enrollment preparation program; fund and position school counselors in high-needs schools; implement the Academic and Career Intensive Pre-Collegiate Scholars Program; increase first generation to college student admissions by 2%; implement a CCR Master’s level course; disseminate UNF’s and other preparation programs best practices; develop a hybrid course for practicing school counselors to become CCR certified; host a CCR evidence-based state conference for counselor educators; and deliver intensive CCR workshops to reach all Florida counselors.

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