The following was originally published in VT Digger.

ESSEX, NY – Just released data confirm a disturbing drop in college attendance among low-income students.

A new initiative by CFES will help close this opportunity gap by fully funding two schools and offering half-scholarships ($15,000) to 20 additional schools. The multi-faceted, comprehensive college and career readiness program, called New Beginnings, is part of CFES’ commitment to help another 100,000 underserved students become college and career ready by 2027, doubling its total since launching in 1991.

Since the pandemic started in 2020, 1.4 million fewer students are enrolled in college. “Part of the problem is the simple fact that education and the workplace have forever changed in the last 30 months,” said CFES President Rick Dalton. “Admissions criteria have shifted and strategies to pay for college are misunderstood, while at the same time, today’s workplace is unrecognizable with millions of new, high-paying remote jobs becoming available for the first time. New Beginnings will provide students, families, and educators with the skills, information and support they need to succeed in this new readiness paradigm.”

Strategic components of the New Beginnings program include: college and career readiness workshops for students, families and educators; the CFES Professional Development Conference; fully developed mentoring programs; College & Career Readiness Advisor™ Trainings; virtual opportunities; a dedicated professional program director; partnership and networking opportunities with 200 colleges/universities and 250 businesses/corporations.

The program encapsulates what CFES Brilliant Pathways has developed over its 30-year history, much of which is laid out in a 2021 book written by Dalton and published by Routledge, Rural America’s Pathways to College and Career.

Interested school leaders can find out more about the program at New Beginnings and fill out a one-page application by June 30. Selected schools will be notified by July 20 with New Beginnings schools starting in mid-August.

“The remarkable effects of our relationship with CFES have created a school culture that has helped break both the barriers of socioeconomic status, broadened our horizons and brought our students to previously unknown ‘brilliant pathways,’” said Shari Brannock, superintendent of the Crown Point School.

CFES Brilliant Pathways is a global nonprofit that has helped over 100,000 students become college and career ready through research-driven methods and best practices, sending more than 90 percent of its students to higher education since 1991.