The following article was originally published by the Burlington Free Press on June 17, 2021.

Students in rural Vermont towns could be better prepared for college because of a new initiative. Five Vermont schools were selected to take part in a three-year college readiness program administered by CFES Brilliant Pathways.

The organization is investing $1.5 million for programs in Vermont and New York’s North Country. Twenty schools that could best prove their “commitment to changing the status quo” were chosen and will begin programs starting in the fall.

Earlier:Kids in rural Vermont are less likely to go to college. Can a glimpse of college life change that?

Vermont schools include:

  • Brighton Elementary School, Island Pond
  • Enosburg Falls High School, Enosburg Falls
  • Leland and Gray Union High School, Townshend
  • Otter Valley Union High School, Brandon
  • Riverside Middle School, Springfield
Rural students are less likely to get a college degree, but a program has chosen five Vermont schools to help change the trend.

Rural students, on the whole, are much less likely to go to college and finish college than their urban and suburban counterparts. This initiative hopes to provide more opportunities to rural youth.

“Too many rural young people lack the skills and education to take on today’s high-wage jobs, and they are being left out of the 21st century economy as a result,” said Rick Dalton, president & CEO of CFES Brilliant Pathways, in a news release. “The goal of this program is to level the playing field for a large group of rural students and ultimately rural communities.”

Participating schools will work with CFES Brilliant Pathways in a variety of ways. A program director will visit the school throughout the year and guide the development of college and career plans. Students will complete a 10-point college and career readiness plan each year.

The University of Vermont will provide professional development and enrichment opportunities for teachers and families. The program will provide resources, partnerships, networking and collaboration opportunities with 200 colleges and 230 businesses. A partnership with an urban school to promote cultural exchange and connection will also be established.

By April Barton