In 2017, United Way of Palm Beach County accepted the role as the host organization for a new collective impact initiative, Achieve Palm Beach County. Achieve is a county-wide collaboration with a mission of collectively ensuring an integrated and effective system of supports from middle school through post-secondary that empowers students for career success. The mission of Achieve is that every Palm Beach County high school graduate completes a post-secondary credential within six years of high school graduation. Positive outcomes include degrees, professional job certifications, apprenticeships, military enlistment and vocational training that prepares students for a meaningful career with a sustainable wage.
Why Achieve Palm Beach County?
Achieve is the direct result of community leaders sharing a common concern regarding college access and success for graduating youth. Of the most recent graduating high school class from the School District of Palm Beach County, fewer than 70 percent enrolled in college the fall after graduation. Of students from low income families, fewer than 60 percent enrolled, and those who started college face challenges with successful completion. Of the graduating class of 2010, only two-thirds of those who started college received an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree within six years. Only 53 percent of the low-income students who enrolled in college in 2010 received a degree within six years. These statistics are startling because in order for our youth to be competitive in the job marketplace, some form of post-secondary education is required.
In order to understand how best to improve college access and completion, community leaders commissioned a research study of the needs of Palm Beach County students. This study included review of performance data for Palm Beach County, a scan of current programs and services, and in-depth stakeholder conversations with students in high school and in college; advisors to high school and college students; parents; community leaders; and providers of college access and completion support.
How Does Achieve Palm Beach County Work?
Achieve PBC is comprised of over 150 individuals representing 50 organizations and entities throughout our community. These encompass local grassroots organizations, faith-based organizations, community-based organizations, post-secondary institutions, government entities, funders and business partners that are focused solely on preparing our underserved middle and high school students to enroll into a post-secondary education program from which they graduate within six years of enrollment. Using a collective impact approach, along with community asset mapping, Achieve PBC is connecting various groups and individuals to a rich pool of already existing community resources intended to create sustainable supports for our students and families while strengthening community relationships. The four areas of focus include: Parent and Family Support and Engagement, Post-Secondary Advising for High School Students, FAFSA Completion (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and Scholarships, Non-Financial Resources and Support Services for College Students.
To learn more about Achieve’s impact and how you can get involved, please visit AchievePBC.org