Arizona Ready for College and Career program aiding thousands of students

Flagstaff, AZ | Submitted by Rosemary Liversedge

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Northern Arizona University’s Civic Service Institute has engaged AmeriCorps members in the Arizona Ready for College and Career (ARCC) program. This statewide initiative aims to increase postsecondary and career readiness by providing direct service to middle school, high school and nontraditional students and families.

Headed into its fourth year, ARCC partners with other groups throughout the state, such as College Depot, to reach youth. Their efforts align with Arizona Education Progress Meter goals to improve high school graduation rates, postsecondary enrollment and overall attainment. By leveraging resources for underserved communities, ARCC volunteers are strengthening postsecondary pathways to increase economic opportunity and building a strong, diverse workforce.

ARCC members engage with students to help with post-high school planning and career exploration. They provide FAFSA workshops, meet 1-on-1 with students, help with scholarship and college applications, and provide career exploration opportunities. Many students will pursue traditional 2- or 4-year college, while others will continue to technical/trade schools or certification programs.

Their efforts have been so impactful that ARCC is growing. Where they had 40 members serving in the previous year, there will be nearly 60 next year. Their expertise is especially needed among their target communities: first generation college students, Native American communities and other underserved populations. And given Arizona’s high student counselor ratio, ARCC is filling a sizable need.

In the first three years, ARCC served 20,000 individuals in nine counties. More than 10,000 students were assisted with FAFSA completions, setting them one big step closer to higher education.

Members love the program:

    • “I cherish the opportunity as an AmeriCorps member to have the chance to offer direction to students about to graduate from high school. As a former teacher, I have seen first-hand how education can change the trajectory of a life.” – Suzanne Johnson, Former AmeriCorps member with Yavapai County Education Service Agency
    • “I believe that higher education is one of the single greatest life changing experiences for people of all ages, and at College Depot I have helped students from age 16 to 66 realize their dreams for an educational experience after high school.” – Diana Mateer, AmeriCorps member serving at College Depot
    • “I had a student who had a 3.8 GPA and had not completed the FAFSA. I made multiple attempts to contact them and meet with them to complete the FAFSA but they would not show up. On my 5th attempt they showed up and told me they did not fill out their FAFSA because both parents passed away and they were living with an aunt who has legal guardianship by the courts. I advised that they would automatically receive the full Pell Grant. All they had to do was apply and provide the court document to the school they were going to attend. The student was so gracious and happy that I was able to give them the correct answer to their problems. We were able to submit the FAFSA and also apply for the university they wanted to go to. The student was not going to attend college because of this misunderstanding. They simply stated they could not afford to go to college. Because I was able to give the proper answer to their situation, they are now college bound and is so excited to go to their dream university.” – Cecilia Duarte, AmeriCorps member serving with Be A Leader Foundation

To learn more, or to host an ARCC Americorps member, contact AmeriCorps@nau.edu.

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