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UC Partnership Honored with Innovation Award for Fueling the Future Success of At-Risk Students

A UC partnership to support the academic achievements of foster youth is honored at a regional forum in Chicago, Ill.

Date: 2/13/2012 3:00:00 PM
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Hanson Photographic

UC ingot   A University of Cincinnati partnership – dedicated to building on educational opportunities for young people who are aging out of Hamilton County’s foster care system – was awarded a College Board/CollegeKeys Compact Innovation Award at the Feb. 13 College Board Midwestern Regional Forum in Chicago, Ill. The award recognizes institutions for innovations in preparing, supporting and increasing the percentage of at-risk students on their pathway to education beyond high school.
Left to right: Kathy Brown, CCE, Annie Schellinger, Rayma Waters
Left to right: Kathy Brown, CCE, Annie Schellinger, Rayma Waters

The Higher Education Mentoring Initiative (HEMI) is a partnership represented by UC’s Partnership for Achieving School Success (PASS), Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, Great Oaks Institute of Technology and Career Development, Hamilton County Job and Family Services and the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners. The partnership creates programming and recruits and trains mentors to prepare foster youth for educational opportunities beyond high school, after they age out of the foster care system.

Now in its third year, HEMI serves more than 35 students. Twenty-two of the HEMI students have graduated from high school and 71 percent of them are pursuing a higher education. Annie Schellinger, UC HEMI program coordinator, adds that 49 mentors are also serving the HEMI program – among them are 12 new mentors that joined HEMI this month. Schellinger says six of the new mentors are UC faculty or staff.

Schellinger and PASS Center co-director Rayma Waters represented the HEMI program as it was honored in Chicago. The recognition included a $5,000 award to support the program.

“It’s an honor to have the Higher Education Mentoring Initiative (HEMI) recognized by the College Board for providing opportunities for students in foster care,” says Schellinger. “Through the amazing dedication and support of the volunteer mentors, this program is serving a population that struggled to stay in high school, let alone considered college. The CollegeKeys Compact 2012 Innovation Award is a testament to the University of Cincinnati’s continued commitment to embracing education for all students.”

“Congratulations to this year’s CollegeKeys Compact Innovation Awards winners for leading the charge toward the common goal of a 55 percent graduation rate by 2025, and in giving our students the best possible opportunities to succeed in college and beyond,” said College Board President Gaston Caperton.

UC’s PASS Center in the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH) works to promote equality by providing full access to opportunities through quality education, experiences and relationships that empower youth.

The CollegeKeys Compact was launched in October 2007 following a two-year review of independent research, policy and practices in academic preparation and planning, admission, financial aid, and retention. A report issued by the College Board found that too many college-qualified low- and moderate-income high school graduates do not enroll in a four-year college program because of a combination of poor preparation, low expectations and financial barriers. The goal of CollegeKeys Compact partners is to see that students from low-income backgrounds are represented in, and graduate from, colleges and universities at the same rate as their more affluent peers.

College Board News Release