In January 2018, we changed our name from College For Every Student – CFES for short – to CFES Brilliant Pathways. This change reflects an expanded mission to help students not only get to college, but to forge an understanding of what sort of job/career they want to pursue – and a vision of how they can realize these goals.
Statistics show the measurable value of a college degree. Today, the highest-paying jobs being created demand college graduates to fill them. While we still believe fervently that college opportunity should be available to every student, we recognize that students can’t just start college, they need to graduate with skills and knowledge that prepares them for 21st century jobs.
That’s why, more than ever, college and career readiness is at the heart of what we do. This happens through the mentoring relationships we foster, our focus on the Essential Skills, and our emphasis on empowering students to find a path that suits their talents and skills.
- Our program is customized for each school – Program Directors work with school teams to make sure the program is supporting college and career readiness goals at each site.
- CFES core practices can be implemented school-wide, impacting every student. There is no limit to the number of students that can engage in the program.
- We embrace a collaborative team approach, rather than dictating program elements. CFES staff, educators, students and others work together to create a plan that fits within the CFES framework and aligns with the school culture.
- CFES works with elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and K-12 districts.
- We have experience in both rural and urban schools, with large or small student populations.
- We are not another initiative! CFES works to integrate existing learning standards, and college-career readiness goals, while supporting district strategic plans and building partnerships.
- We bring schools together: CFES schools network with one another to share best practices, connect students of different backgrounds and celebrate success.
- Our core practices are designed to interrelate and overlap. A student participating in mentoring, for example, will be using the relationship to explore college and career pathways as well as developing Essential Skills. Our practices become part of the school culture and mindset!
Because our program is customized for each school, no two plans are alike. Your CFES program can take the form of a class, be built into advisory periods, with college and career readiness activities and/or take place during or outside of the regular school day. With the support of CFES professionals, all participating schools develop a customized plan to integrate our three core practices and engage students in those practices and provide ongoing professional development to educators. CFES becomes ingrained in each school’s culture, supporting college/career-counseling efforts and enhancing other college and career readiness initiatives already in place.
With guidance from their Program Director, members of the school-based team identify Core Practice activities to implement, and how often. For example, teams may determine their students would be best served by peer mentoring, and set a schedule for mentor pairs to meet weekly. Another school may engage community mentors to meet monthly with students to work on the college application process. A third school may implement a teachers-as-mentors model wherein students “check in” on a regular basis. For each of the Core Practices, there are many different implementation strategies. We’ll help you determine the best approach for your school.
Although our program looks different in each school, the following components are consistent throughout our network:
- Every CFES Brilliant Pathways school is assigned a Program Director who works with the liaison and team. Program Directors visit schools to deliver services such as mentor training or college and career pathway workshops. Between visits, directors offer remote support.
- Each school identifies a member of their team to be the official liaison. This person serves as the main point of contact for the Program Director and CFES Brilliant Pathways main office.
- Representatives of every school team are invited to attend our annual National Conference.
- CFES Brilliant Pathways conducts fall planning and training workshops for each school team to strategize the year’s activities with support from their Program Director.
- School team members are invited to attend regional professional development opportunities throughout the year.
- Curricular resources from our central office are shared with school liaisons throughout the year.
CFES Brilliant Pathways partner schools tap into a variety of funding sources for their contribution, including district funds, local grants, community organizations and foundations, area corporations, fundraisers, and private donors. We work with our schools to meet any necessary funding requirements – for example, dividing the cost across multiple payments throughout the school year.
Each school may use their own criteria to determine which students participate in the program, selecting those who would benefit the most from increased awareness of college and career opportunities. This can mean students who come from low-income families, who are underrepresented in postsecondary education, or who will be first in their family to go to college. Many schools see their CFES cohort grow to encompass the whole school, with practices implemented across targeted grade levels or with school-wide participation.
Your school team should be a group of people who have access to students and can move the program forward. School teams range from three to fifteen members, depending on the school’s needs and capacity. Your school team can consist of any or all of the following:
- Community members
Your Program Director is an extension of your school team, and will coordinate with your liaison to schedule on-site visits to provide student workshops, professional development, and supports building college and community partnerships. Your Program Director is accessible to your team through regular phone/email communication. Program Directors are invaluable when it comes to creating and implementing your school plan, evaluating existing initiatives, and advising school teams on program effectiveness.
Professionals on the CFES central office staff:
- Create curricular resources that assist with program implementation.
- Distribute a college-and-career-readiness newsletters geared towards students.
- Coordinate regional and national events and programs.
- Run the School of Distinction Awards Program for our exemplary schools.
- Provide branding and PR support.
- Connect our schools with one another.
This professional development gathering gives your team space and time to get the year off to a good start. Teams come together to work on their annual plan, connect with their Program Director and network with teams from other CFES Brilliant Pathways schools. It’s a time of sharing, strategizing and celebrating.
Our national professional development conference is the one time every year that representatives from all our schools gather to learn, share, be inspired by and collaborate with one another: Teachers, administrators, students, alumni, and college and corporate partners.