Achieve Palm Beach County began with a community gathering in May of 2015, when a group of Palm Beach County Leaders invited community members from a cross-section of organizations to discuss improving educational attainment through a collective impact approach. In July of the following year, the Steering Committee released a strategic plan to define the work needed and in December of 2016, the committee hosted a Launch Event to begin the work through Strategy and Support Teams.
Since that initial community gathering, this collective impact effort has made tremendous strides towards our goal through the creation of a strategic plan, attaining the support of our host organization, United Way of Palm Beach County, and hiring an Executive Director. We created four strategy teams as defined by our four main areas of focus: Parent and Family Engagement, High School Advising, FAFSA Completion and Post-Secondary Supports and Scholarships. Additionally, we created the Data and Communications teams which provide support to the strategy teams.
Here are a few of the successes that each of these teams has accomplished together over the past two years:
Parent Engagement and Support Team
Designed to help parents and families support their students with exploring careers and the type of post-secondary education needed for their careers of interest, this team created one-page checklists to address the general steps needed to navigate your student’s path beginning as early as middle school, through high school and into the college years. These checklists are available in four languages (found here). This team also hosted five family gatherings across the county. These meetings served 50 families and covered information such as FAFSA completion, community resources available for post-secondary and career exploration, and information on trade schools.
Post-Secondary Advising for High School Students
This team is focused on providing awareness and education to juniors and seniors in high school about the available resources for post-secondary and career preparation. As a result, this team partnered with the FAFSA team to support 19 Kahn Academy, MyCareerShines, and FAFSA completion train-the-trainer events. Nearly 400 local nonprofit staff, administrators, students, and parents were trained, reaching an estimated 6,000 students and parents. This team also supported a week-long learning experience called the Summer Collegiate Institute. The Institute is devoted to empowering rising leaders by connecting them with critical resources needed to help them reach their full potential. More than 70 students have completed this intensive and intentional training.
With the goal of helping students and families understand, dispel myths and apprehensions, and complete the FAFSA form, the team created a FAFSA Toolkit. The Toolkit serves as a guide for community organizations to use when holding FAFSA information, awareness, and completion events. The team supported FAFSA completion events at community venues and conducted four information sessions with valuable insights into navigating the completion of the FAFSA, reaching more than 200 individuals. The team also partnered with the Post-Secondary Advising for High School Students team to support train-the-trainer events for local nonprofit staff with the potential to reach thousands of parents and students.
Scholarships and Support Services of College Students
Based on focus group results from students at Palm Beach State College, the team identified two areas where increased and intentional support was needed: more in-depth student support and support for unexpected, acute financial emergencies.
All Male Panthers Coaching Program: To address the need for more support, this team is in the process launching the All Male Panthers Coaching pilot program at Palm Beach State College. Based on successful student support models, the program will provide men, particularly men of color, on campus with a multi-faceted coaching support system focused on helping them to obtain the skills necessary to be successful in their academic and work life, by capitalizing on campus-based and community-based supports.
Student Urgent Relief Fund (SURF): This fund was developed to support low-income post-secondary students with mini-grants of up to $500 to assist with unanticipated financial issues, such as emergency dental work, auto repairs, utility bills, etc. that have the potential to derail their ability to continue their post-secondary education. Through various community partners and funders, $40,000 was secured to officially launch SURF at Palm Beach State College in the spring of 2019, with a goal of serving 80 students that year.
Our team members are here to facilitate the work, collect the data and celebrate the successes with the community and just like our county, they are a diverse and dynamic group dedicated to the success of our youth.meet our team
Achieve Palm Beach County is made up of members who are just like you because we are residents just like you. We want to see our youth succeed and our community thrive. With your help, we can create sustainable changes that will positively impact our community for future generations.count me in