Since 2006, the Austin Chamber has partnered with local colleges and several Central Texas school districts to improve college enrollment. The Direct-to-College 70 (DTC70) program is working to attain a 70 percent rate of direct enrollment into post-secondary education, on par with the national average We have helped simplify and track student post-secondary readiness, college applications, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and put that directly into the hands of high school counselors. We've financed student surveys to find out what specific help they need. We texted students and parents nearly 150,000 times to help keep them on track. Following graduation, we work with school districts to extend counselor contracts into the summer to ensure graduates get help on those last steps to complete college enrollment.
This partnership has helped thousands of families successfully enroll students in college and make it more affordable by completing the FAFSA: the starting point for grants, subsidized loans and scholarships. Local high schools host 50 FAFSA completion events, with support from an army of volunteers, to provide families free help filing out their forms. These events are often the difference maker when it comes to receiving financial aid and going to college. As of July 1, 2018, 63 percent of the class of 2018 was college ready.
We couldn’t do any of this without the dedication of the counselors who flag down each student, help them determine where they want to enroll, help them with paperwork, get them a notary public, lend them gas money, come in on Saturdays or early on Tuesdays or late on Fridays. They have a very hard job helping students and families navigate arguably one of the most important transitions in their lives and it’s important that we recognize them for the important role they play in this success.
The education system in the Austin region works for many of our young people, but that is not enough. For our region to be on a path to future success, we need to accomplish the DTC70 goals, improve our college and career readiness, and crack the code on how to ensure people can work to support their families and attain the skills that allow them to continue to be successful in an evolving economy.
We can invest in our economy and our infrastructure, but the most important investment we can make is in our children and their futures. Our entire community, job creators, parents, and neighbors owe a debt of gratitude to those who wake up every day and are singularly focused on helping our children receive a good education. Our State of Education event, and the awards we are handing out, are a small way for all of us to say thank you.
Education Business Champions
Academic Advancement and Student Support: Baylor Scott & White, Covert Auto Group, Dana Incorporated, ERCOT, Patriot Erectors, Randolph Brooks Federal Credit Union
College and Career Mentoring/Experience: A+ Federal Credit, Chasco Constructors, Doug’s Plumbing, HEB Hutto, Pflugerville Fire Department and ESD #2
Community Impact and Student Leadership: Amazon SAT2, First Lockhart National Bank, Kiwanis Club of Sun City Georgetown, Silicon Labs, Wimberley Ace Hardware
District Awards for Educational Excellence
Highest ApplyTexas Submission Rate by Enrollment for a High School Campus: Westwood High School, Hutto High School, KIPP Austin Collegiate, Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders
Highest FAFSA Submission Rate by Enrollment for a High School Campus: Akins High School, Liberal Arts and Science Academy, KIPP Austin Collegiate
Highest Financial Aid Saturdays Attendance for a High School Campus: Hutto High School
Highest Senior Survey Participation Rate by Enrollment for a High School Campus: Westwood High School, Liberal Arts and Science Academy, Eastside Memorial Early College High School
Greatest Improvement in College Readiness for a School District: Hutto ISD
Highest College Readiness Rate for a School District: Round Rock ISD
Greatest Improvement in Direct-to-College Enrollment for a High School Campus: Vandegrift High School, Reagan Early College High School, LBJ Early College High School
Highest Overall Direct-to-College Enrollment for a High School Campus: Liberal Arts and Science Academy
Related Categories: Education and Talent