HDCC Year #2 Highlights

“My students really enjoyed this experience (writing their application responses) and it was really cool to listen to them research and think about their future! I have not had students do this kind of thinking before and I definitely see the benefit of it! I hope we can do this again next year.”
Glenns Ferry 4/5th grade teacher

As HDCC completes its very successful second year, I want to take this opportunity to thank our partnership school districts – Bliss, Wendell, Hagerman, Camas County and Glenns Ferry – along with the College of Education at Boise State University for their involvement, hospitality, and support this past year.  Without their steadfast belief in the importance of what HDCC is trying to accomplish in our rural schools and communities- to inspire the youth of rural Idaho to pursue educational opportunities beyond high school so that they will be empowered to build a brighter future for themselves and their communities – none of this would be possible. I am both humbled and awed by the generosity of spirit and commitment shown by the school leadership and teachers to allow HDCC to interface with  their educational communities on behalf of the students and families.

What follows is a summary of HDCC’s noteworthy accomplishments and developments, and some initial plans for the fall.

College Aspirations Workshops: HDCC conducted twenty-six (26) college aspirational workshops in our five school districts – Bliss, Hagerman, Wendell, Camas, and Glenns Ferry – during January and February, presenting to over 500 students in grades 4-8. We were joined this winter by nine Boise State University student-athletes, who zoomed into workshops to lend their personal stories on why they chose to pursue education beyond high school and the obstacles they overcame to get there. Each story was very inspiring and the students really responded with lots of questions. This was the first of a new partnership HDCC launched last fall with the College of Education at BSU and we look forward to increasing this type of mentoring.

College Aspirations Scholarships: This spring HDCC awarded 154 scholarships ($19,250 allocated to the scholarship fund) to student applicants from our five school districts. We were thrilled to receive 263 applications (up from 85 last year) that responded to the essay questions – What do you enjoy doing today that might make a great career for you in the future? Why do you think it might be a good fit? And identify one college that might be a good fit to help you prepare for your career and/or future interest along with three courses?  Several classroom teachers used the scholarship application as an English/Language Arts assessment which resulted in many quality applications. We again celebrated these students at each school’s year-end assemblies and highlighted their aspirations and college of interest to the school community. I have attached two short videos from Camas County to provide some insight into those assemblies.

IDeal- Idaho College Savings Program: A new component of the HDCC Scholarship Award certificate was the opportunity for families to redeem the award now (versus using it for college later) by opening a Idaho College Saving Plan (529 Plan) if they choose. With the professional assistance of Nick Thiros (Idaho College Savings Program representative), families can learn first hand about the savings plan and work with Nick to open an account. As you may know, thirty-nine states have college development accounts (CDAs), including Idaho, and research from the University of Michigan validates that when families have a college savings plan (of any amount), the chances of a child going onto some level of higher education is four to five times greater. We are trying to capture this momentum with families. I just processed our first request this week.

New HDCC Website: This spring we also launched a new website (www.highdesertcollegecollaborative.org) that articulates our mission, core values, programming, supporters, and available resources. Next year we hope each school district will include a HDCC tab on their respective websites so more parents, community members, and local businesses learn about us.

New Partner Members: At the recommendation of present superintendents, HDCC recently reached out to two new area school districts to invite them into our growing High Desert partnership. Additionally, we are researching student programs at College of Southern Idaho (CSI) in Twin Falls that might  join us – like BSU –  in our winter workshops and become mentors for middle school students. We are very excited about the prospect of these educational institutions joining the partnership.

Finally, HDCC greatly appreciates its partnership (and sponsorship) with Sun Valley Community School, allowing us to operate under their 501(c)3.  The board, leadership team, and business and development offices continue to support and help facilitate our annual operations as an extension of their mission to promote impactful, purposeful lives in Idaho.