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New tool helps schools and communities map students’ pathways to college

January 16, 2014

NEW YORK, NY — The Postsecondary Success Asset Mapping tool, a new online resource that helps high schools guide underserved students toward successful college careers, has been released to educators across the United States. The tool was developed and launched as part of the Postsecondary Success Collaborative (PSC), an initiative led by FHI 360, a nonprofit human development organization headquartered in Durham, NC.

The Asset Mapping tool was piloted and refined in 10 high schools in three U.S. cities — Miami, Philadelphia and San Francisco — with an initial cohort of 4,500 students in grades 9 through 12. It is an innovative, research-based approach that enables educators to assess and align existing school and community resources, and helps them to identify gaps in services that support college access. Each asset map enables school staff to examine the supports and services the school has or may be missing for the college-readiness activities that are critical to all students, including academic preparedness, learning skills and college awareness.

The Postsecondary Success Asset Mapping tool helped to raise college enrollment rates by 39 percent among African American and Latino students in several pilot schools compared to a 4 percent increase among students of color overall in their three districts.

“There are too many well-meaning programs and services trying to get students into college that work in isolation and lack expertise in certain areas or require additional funding,” says Rochelle Nichols-Solomon, Director, Postsecondary Success at FHI 360. “Asset mapping identifies these programs and services, highlights where they are succeeding and exposes gaps where students need more support. Schools then work strategically with education, business, government and community sectors to help more students to access and succeed in higher education.” 

Launched in 2008 with a $5.1 million grant from the Citi Foundation, PSC aims at increasing college access and success for students in low-income communities, students of color and first-generation college students through partnerships among schools, districts, higher education institutions and community organizations.

“We have learned through this project that communities often have the partners, the desire and resources to help more low-income students succeed in higher education,” said Brandee McHale, Chief Operating Officer at the Citi Foundation. “The Postsecondary Success Collaborative shows us what is possible when these resources are marshaled effectively. It also offers tools to help communities go through this process.”

The Postsecondary Success Collaborative is also unveiling a special report today that provides case studies of asset mapping and highlights the results of an independent five-year evaluation of PSC. According to the report, the asset mapping tool not only helped raise college enrollment rates, but also helped raise college persistence rates by 32 percent for African American and Latino students in schools that had particularly strong leadership and commitment to PSC.

“Asset mapping allows us to get buy-in from the faculty,” said Blanca Calzadilla, principal of Miami Southridge Senior High School. “Teachers helped our school administration examine our needs, set the goals and establish how to achieve them and how to revise our planning and coursework to ensure that our students are ready for college.”

Learn more about PSC and the Asset Mapping tool by clicking here or going to www.postsecondarysuccess.org.