Partners Join to Assure College Success for Erie Students

U.S. Department of Education & GE Foundation-Funded Effort Aims to Increase College-Going Success among High School Students in Erie
Apr 15, 2011 2:00 PM ET

(3BL Media / theCSRfeed) Washington, D.C. -  April 15, 2011 – The Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) and the GE Foundation announce the launch of GO College – Erie, a college-access program, at three Erie School District high schools through a $24 million grant. Through the program, students will receive expanded college access services to help them to enter, succeed in, and graduate from college. The program is designed and implemented by COE, a national non-profit from Washington, DC. Operating under the moniker, “The Gaining Options for College Collaborative” or GO College – Erie, this five-year project is funded through a $20 million U.S. Department of Education grant and a $4 million contribution from the GE Foundation. “We are excited to expand on the programs and services offered to the students of the Erie School District by the $15 million GE Foundation Developing Futures in Education grant,” said Nancy Anderson, Chief Information Officer for GE Transportation. “We are glad to make an additional investment in the competitiveness of our community by providing local students with the opportunity to gain a college education.”  

In order to provide these valuable services to students, three local organizations have stepped forward to partner with the high schools. Gannon University, the Greater Erie Community Action Committee (GECAC) and the Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit 5 (IU5) are working with the schools to make it easier for students and their families to prepare for and gain the resources to go to college. A range of activities from college fairs, to workshops on financial aid, to individual counseling will be available to all students at Central Tech, East, and Strong Vincent High Schools. College Coaches, made available through GO College – Erie, will work at each school to engage small groups of students in “Learning Communities” that will focus on structured career, academic and college counseling to make them college ready by graduation.   This week each school and its college access partner are hosting a range of activities to kick off the initiative. Over 20 colleges and universities are participating at the Central Tech College Fair to be held at the high school on March 25 from 9:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. East High School is inviting students to participate in a College and Career Fair entitled “Path to your Future” and Strong Vincent High School will introduce sophomores to college expectations on the Gannon campus that same day.    “The bottom line with all three high schools is simple: use data to learn how many Erie students are entering college and succeeding – and use that same data to enable more students to become college graduates,” said Dr. Nicole Norfles, who directs the program for COE.   Erie’s School District Superintendent Jay Badams commented: “Faculty and staff of the district are committed to enabling more Erie students to graduate from high school college and career ready. We look forward to working with our community partners to make sure that students are aware of all their options after high school, and are supported in preparing to take advantage of those options.”  Added Assistant Superintendent Dr. Walter Strosser, “We are looking forward to working together with COE and each partner in this collaboration to use data informatively and improve our students’ access to college.”   A press conference to launch the initiative will be held on Friday, March 25 at Gannon University in conjunction with college access activities at each of the participating schools.  A student representative from one of the participating high schools will discuss program benefits with Dr. Keith Taylor, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at Gannon University and Nancy Anderson, Chief Information Officer for GE Transportation.   Funding for GO College – Erie is made available under the “Investing in Innovation” (i3) fund through the US Department of Education. Selected from nearly 1,700 applicants, COE was one of 49 recipients to secure a $20 million i3 grant. The i3 fund supports local efforts to start or expand research-based innovative education programs. The competition was open to school districts as well as nonprofit organizations and institutions of higher education working in partnership with public schools.  Applicants were required to demonstrate their previous success in closing achievement gaps, improving student progress toward proficiency, increasing graduation rates, or recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers and principals. The GE Foundation, a longstanding COE partner, provided a $4 million grant to support the project Erie, Pennsylvania and in Louisville, Kentucky, where the GE Appliances & Lighting business is located and where the GE Foundation supports the Jefferson County Public Schools.   The COE i3 initiative has two key aspects: ·      Academic Collaboration – Gannon, GECAC and the IU5 each will hire and place in their respective high schools two “college coaches.” The coaches will work with students in areas such as academic advising, tutoring, mentoring, college preparation and planning and help with filling out required forms, such as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). A representative from the School District of the City of Erie, the college access providers, and coaches meet regularly to collaborate on services that benefit the students. ·      Data – Using Data to Inform College Access Programming in the 21st Century High School (Using DICAP) is designed to help education providers make more informed decisions. It is built on the premise that many members of local communities are committed to ensuring college access and success and that there is a wealth of data available to aid students, their parents and others with the ultimate goal of college enrollment. Typically, however, this data is not easily accessible. As college coaches document services provided at their respective high schools, data will be collected and analyzed to spur methods to improve student outcomes.   Media representatives wishing to attend the press conference should contact Rheanna Martinez, Assistant Director of Marketing and Outreach with COE, at    For more information about COE, visit the organization’s Web site at To find out more about the GE Foundation, go to


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