Springfield, Townshend schools utilize college readiness program

SPRINGFIELD, Vt. – CFES Brilliant Pathways, a college and career-readiness program based in Essex, N.Y., recently chose 20 rural schools throughout Vermont and northeastern New York to receive funds through its new North County Brilliant Pathways program.

The announcement supports a statewide initiative called Advance Vermont, which strives for 70% of working-age residents achieving the goal of a postsecondary degree or other credential or certificate.

Of the 72 schools that applied for the initiative, which offers $1.5 million in funds, two local schools – Springfield’s Riverside Middle School and Townshend’s Leland & Gray Union High School – were chosen to participate in the program.

Other Vermont schools chosen included Vergennes Union Middle High School, Brighton Elementary School in Island Pond, Miller’s Run Elementary School in Sheffield, and North Country Union Junior High School in Derby.

CFES is an international nonprofit that has helped over 100,000 urban and rural students attend college. Utilizing research-driven methods and practices, they have successfully sent more than 90% of its students to college since 1991 and currently serve over 25,000 students in 30 states and Ireland.

Their mission statement is that every student deserves a chance to forge their own route to a bright future – no matter where they are from, or what resources are available to them. CFES helps students find their own brilliant pathways be becoming college and career-ready.

“The CFES Brilliant Pathways model is a proven exemplar in encouraging college-going and student success,” said Scott Thomas. Thomas is the Dean of the College of Education and Social Services at the University of Vermont. “We welcome their commitment to Vermont schools and contributions to the objectives of Advance Vermont.”

The program addresses a national challenge: for rural students to attend college at lower rates than those students in cities and suburbs. It is designed to provide schools with a comprehensive “college readiness” program that will help more students in rural areas create a path to college because currently a lower percentage of these students attend college as compared to students from suburban and urban areas.

“We couldn’t be more pleased with all the responses, both in the quality and number of applicants,” said Rick Dalton. Dalton is the president and CEO of CFES Brilliant Pathways. “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.

“Our goal is to level the playing field for a large group of rural students and ultimately, rural communities. The schools chosen demonstrated a need for the program and a strong commitment to working in partnership with CFES to make it successful.”

The North Country Brilliant Pathways program offers a variety of services to participating schools including a program director for each school who makes both in-school and virtual visits throughout the year, a vast library of resources including partnerships and networking opportunities with some 200 colleges and universities and 230 businesses and corporations, and a partnership with an urban school to promote cultural exchanges as to prepare students to navigate in a diverse world.

This program is a result of experiences and strategies CFES has developed over a 30-year history, and the program will be expanded in the near future. “We hope to find additional funding to work with other schools that have applied,” Dalton added. “All the schools submitted strong applications, and we also see this program as a national model that could be put in place in rural communities around the country.”

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