Riverside Wins Gates Grant
Completion Counts, a citywide initiative to increase the college-going rate and success of Riverside students, kicked off its “Fund Your College Dreams” campaign in January to encourage high school seniors to apply for financial aid.
The initiative, paid for by a $3 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is designed to increase the college-going and postsecondary completion rate of Riverside students.
Cindy Taylor, Completion Counts director, said the name was changed from Communities Learning in Partnership (CLIP) to Completion Counts to underscore the message that students need to complete: their homework, their financial aid forms, their college applications, and most importantly whatever educational goal they choose whether it’s college or a vocational program.
The community partnership, housed at Riverside City College, includes Alvord and Riverside unified school districts, the Riverside Mayor’s Office, UC Riverside, the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce and several other education, business and community based groups.
A Welcome Center, scheduled to open on the RCC campus in spring, will provide potential students and their parents with the help they need to complete college applications and to navigate the enrollment process. Taylor said the idea is to provide a warm and inviting environment to counter the fear or intimidation some students may experience by walking them through the steps required to get them into the classroom.
Everyone will be welcome at the center where information on all segments of higher education including Cal State Universities, UCs and private universities will be available.
Another aspect of the center will be an Internet-based public information function called College 3-1-1 where students can go for information on scholarships, financial aid and careers. They also can have their questions answered by email.
Taylor said Completion Counts will begin offering assessments for high school juniors to determine their placement in college English and math. Based on their level of proficiency, they can spend their senior year taking an intensive course in the areas where they need to improve so they will be academically ready for college-level work.
An analysis of the Class of 2002 in Riverside showed that only 15 percent of all students and only 3 percent of low-income students completed college within 150 percent of the normal time. Completion Counts’ goal is to increase the college-going rate to 50 percent and the postsecondary completion rate whether it’s college or a certificate program to 20 percent by 2013. The goal for 2020 is a 62 percent college-going rate and a 47 percent completion rate.
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