College readiness outreach in Kentucky takes many forms – take a look at a list of them here (download .pdf file). From the federal GEAR UP and TRiO programs to locally funded efforts, the Commonwealth has had a long history of spurring outreach activities aimed at populations who might otherwise not receive such services, e.g., low-income families, first-generation college-going students, minority and underrepresented students. The TRiO Programs were among the earliest of the federally-funded college access programs in Kentucky (see the timeline for outreach activities in this .pdf file) – but Kentuckians were thinking about this even earlier when they rolled out the extraordinary initiatives with radio (see the history of WBKY in Beattyville and Elmer C. Sulzer, director of radio for UK) and television (see the history of KET and O. Leonard Press).
Kentucky today is home to many organizations whose efforts are currently under way to try and turn around the poor ratings across the state for achieving a baccalaureate degree. That’s why the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education is searching for a way to help coordinate and enhance those outreach efforts. In an inaugural meeting in Frankfort with representatives from many different constituencies, Dr. Christopher Rice of the University of Kentucky led us through a series of tasks and discussions emphasizing these characteristics for effective outreach efforts: Value, Affordability, Readiness and Completion.
The CPE staff introduced three programs they are promoting:
- University Mentor Program: an online mentoring program designed to connect high school students with trained adult mentors in a secure, online environment (the state’s license for Blackboard) to build relationships while completing a college and career readiness curriculum.
- Take the L.E.A.D. (Local Education Advocate Diploma) Program: an online course for parents and community members that is housed within the Digital Driver’s License system hosted here by the University of Kentucky’s College of Education’s Dr. Gerry Swann’s OTIS (Open-source Tools for Instructional Support). There are three tracks: middle school, high school, and college/career savvy. Parents/guardians and mentors can earn a GEAR UP KY Local Education Advocate Diploma by completing multiple “cases” within each track.
- College Access Outreach Media Campaign Resources and Programs: a bank of existing websites and media resources currently available to increase awareness statewide of the value, options and steps to college readiness and success. Some examples are: KnowHow2GOKy and the Gotocollege.ky.gov websites, 21st Century Scholar Certificates, the 15-to-Finish and the Project Graduate campaigns.
With the help of Dr. Rice, the group helped to design a new Institute for higher education professionals and community stakeholders to address outreach needs and improve college-going, college-completing rates in Kentucky. And this all happened in just one day’s work. Imagine what we can do together moving forward with an Institute that takes place over several days?