CFES Brilliant Pathways President and CEO Rick Dalton ‘71 received the 2023 Alumni Corporation Humanitarian Award during Colgate’s Alumni Weekend on June 3-4 for his leadership of the nonprofit he founded in 1991 that has helped over 100,000 underserved youth become college and career ready.

Established in 2003, the award honors Colgate alumni who have devoted themselves to improving the lives of individuals and communities. It is awarded annually to someone who is unusually committed to helping others and who, by choice of career or other significant commitment of time and energy, exemplifies all that Colgate seeks to inspire in its students by way of devotion to community.

“For his long record of improving and enriching young lives, the Colgate Alumni Corporation honors Rick Dalton as its Humanitarian of the Year,” said Lauri Curtis Hadobas ’77, Vice President of the Alumni Council.

An English major at Colgate, Dalton earned a master’s in English from Middlebury and a master’s and a doctorate in education from Harvard. As Middlebury’s Director of Enrollment Planning, his work included efforts to diversify the student body. In the process, he developed the mindset that led him to start CFES. 

The Clark Foundation in Cooperstown underwrote Rick’s initial efforts with upstate New York rural schools and remains a regular donor to CFES that now works with 200 under-resourced rural and urban schools in 17 states. The US Department of Education is currently funding a seven-year, $11.6 million “Gear Up” initiative that serves and tracks more than 2,000 students in seven North Country New York school districts. Of the roughly 20,000 K-12 students mentored by CFES at any given time, 90 percent will graduate from high school and go on to postsecondary study. 

CFES Scholars learn the “Essential Skills” of goal-setting, teamwork, leadership, and perseverance. Mentors engage the students in conversations about college and careers, and they guide them on visits to college campuses, all designed to help kids understand and realize their potential. “We designed a program that was solely focused on changing life trajectories,” said Dalton. “  

In addition to its work in schools, CFES develops corporate and college partnerships to help students make the connection between education and the workforce through internships, research and job shadowing opportunities.  The University of Vermont – a CFES partner – recognized Rick with an honorary doctorate degree in 2022. 

Dalton is the author of two books: “Rural America’s Pathways to College and Career: Steps for Student Success and School Improvement (Routledge, 2022)” and College For Every Student: A Practitioner’s Guide to Building College and Career Readiness (Routledge, 2017).”