Educate Tomorrow Programs
Systems Change: Building Capacity for Improved Post-Secondary Attainment Rates Among Students Utilizing Florida Tuition Exemptions.
Individuals and families: Each student and their families (if applicable) have a unique learning/goal plan, which is self-paced and supported by staff and their team of coaches, and area experts that create their learning community. They receive assistance with their academic, financial and overall well-being through care coordination and referrals to internal and external resources.
About Educate Tomorrow
Educate Tomorrow is a Miami-based 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to creating independence for children, youth and families who have been affected by trauma, poverty or lack of opportunity through education, mentoring, advocacy and life skills training.
The first major educational opportunity the founders, the Emmons sisters, discovered was a tuition exemption to Florida state colleges, universities and vocational schools for youth who experienced foster care – including those who were adopted – and youth experiencing homelessness. This year more than 6,300 students in the state are currently utilizing the tuition exemption to obtain a postsecondary degree or credential, an increase of more than 350% since 2008.
Educate Tomorrow coaches and care coordinators provide opportunities for housing, legal support, educational enrichment, after school and summer academic experiences, tutoring, scholarships, financial literacy, volunteer service, internships, networking, resume building, employment, college tours, and building and becoming an integral, contributing, supportive member of the community. This support also includes academic and career advising, emergency financial assistance, social and emotional learning, professional development and social connections all designed to influence protective factors and increase individual or family stability.
In 2010, The White House recognized Educate Tomorrow as one of 20 national “Programs of Promise.” In 2013, The College Board awarded Educate Tomorrow the Innovation Award for getting first-generation, nontraditional students into college. In 2015, Miami Dade College awarded Educate Tomorrow its Partnership Award for delivering college coaching programs on their campuses. Campus President Dr. Malou Harrison provided the reason for this selection, “The persistence rate of Educate Tomorrow students actually exceeds the persistence rates of the general student body at Miami Dade College.”
Educate Tomorrow students are currently 70% female and 30% male. 79% of the students are age 15-24. 70% are Black or African American, 10% are Hispanic or Latino, and 10% are two or more races. The ultimate goal for each student is to engage them from the time of referral to the attainment of a postsecondary degree or certification, to create a strong, lifelong support network upon which each youth can rely and to equip each youth with the life skills necessary to live as an independent and responsible adult.
Alberto Carvalho, Miami-Dade County Public Schools Superintendent, describes his take on Educate Tomorrow’s success: “Educate Tomorrow has demonstrated a commitment to providing support and resources to students who have been involved in the dependency system. These youth have greatly benefited from the cooperative and productive relationship between Educate Tomorrow and Miami-Dade County Public Schools.”
Educate Tomorrow’s AOK Scholars have achieved a 91% college persistence/graduation rate, an increase over last year's 89%. Educate Tomorrow also celebrated 51 high school student graduations this year, and 203 Educate Tomorrow college students have now earned a degree or vocational certificate.
The Helios Education Foundation has recognized the need for on-campus supports at colleges and universities: “At the heart of most scholarship programs that include wraparound services is a counselor or mentor whose main role is to provide students with the support they need to stay enrolled.” Educate Tomorrow has been assisting colleges and universities to establish college coaching programs since 2013 in Florida, Texas, California and Colorado.
Building Capacity for Improved Post-Secondary Attainment Rates Among Students Utilizing Florida Tuition Exemptions
Mission for this objective: To support college students utilizing the Tuition Exemption in Florida to increase college completion rates / attainment rates through dedicated support programs. In order to support the capacity of College Coaches, Educate Tomorrow adds breadth, depth of services, and proven outcomes to the complementary statewide multi-organizational support network, Florida REACH. Educate Tomorrow adds continuous improvements in its use of data analytics and data sharing, to inform methods for improving outcomes across a broad network of institutions.
Vision: Within 3 years, serve a minimum of 90% of students utilizing the Tuition Exemption (“the population”) in colleges and universities, through dedicated on-campus college coaches and a supportive network that fortifies and advances positive impact on the academic success of students in the population.
Creating opportunities: We believe that talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. We desire to bring opportunity to students in order to seek truly transformational, generational change.
Breaking down barriers: We believe that neither poverty nor neglect should impede youth from leading successful adult lives.
Achieving postsecondary success: Increasing the persistence rates for students who qualify for the tuition exemptions in Florida and other states.
Removing impediments: For postsecondary students from foster care or experiencing unstable housing, we work to remove barriers to higher education and gainful employment.
Supporting college coaches: Students can benefit from intensive and intrusive support. Increasing retention and completion rates requires an upfront investment for dedicated college coaches, which will yield a significant return on investment. Tutoring, academic coaching, and related services are imperative for student retention, persistence, and degree attainment.
Educate Tomorrow’s Unique Position
- Recognized Leader
Educate Tomorrow is uniquely poised to be the leader of this statewide initiative that supports dedicated college coaches and scholarship specialists on state university and college campuses.
Since July 2017, Educate Tomorrow has administered the Positive Pathways network contracted by the Florida Department of Children & Families to be the backbone organization to lead the network of college coaches and create a bigger impact among this population. Educate Tomorrow continually is recognized with awards and honors for its work. Expanding our position into additional urban areas is a natural progression.
Recognition for Educate Tomorrow’s Work:
2020 Andrea Arrechea named Florida Foster Care Review Child Welfare Champion of the Month
2020 Brett McNaught named Miami Times Best of Miami "Educator in Crisis Time"
2020 Founder Virginia Emmons is named The Drexel Fund Founders Fellow
2019 Guardian Ad Litem Community Partner of the Year Award
2018 Brett McNaught named Florida Department of Child and Families' Child Welfare Champion Award
2017 Miami Marlins Charity Partner of the Year
2017 Service Year Alliance Innovation Award
2016 Florida International University Student Access and Success Award
2015 Virginia Emmons named Royal Caribbean International Education Award, Red Cross Sara Hopkins Woodruff Spectrum Awards for Women
2015 Miami Dade College Partnership Award
2015 Brett McNaught and Virginia Emmons named Florida International University Path Award Winner for Social Well Being
2015 Bank of America Neighborhood Builders Award
2014 Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Innovation Award for Nonprofits
2014 Guardian Ad Litem Community Partner of the Year
2013 Brett McNaught named Voices for Children MVP Award for Most Valuable Protector Community Partner
2013 College Board Innovation Award – Getting In To College Award, Southern U.S.
- Catalysts for Change: from Conversation to Completion
Educate Tomorrow staff are conversation starters, adept at identifying the goals of other organizations and individuals and bringing them into alignment with their own. Finding common ground with others is the jumping off point for greater collaboration and unifying values. Educate Tomorrow is committed to being a powerful collaborative force in moving concepts to measurable outcomes and results.
- Start-Up Partner
Educate Tomorrow, as a donor and partner to colleges and universities, establishes excellent relationships with campus leadership and co-develops a plan for them to hire a dedicated college coach. Educate Tomorrow also creates objectives and deliverables for the college coaches, provides onboarding and trainings and professional development for them, and meets regularly with them and reviews quantitative outcomes to progress toward goals. The College Coach strategy for each university is designed to embrace its unique strengths, gaps and limitations to ensure developmental progress in the long run.
- Community Advocate
Educate Tomorrow diligently pursues positive change for the population by raising awareness, calling attention to challenges within systems, enlisting support from experts, giving a voice to those who once struggled to find their own, and providing a platform for self-advocacy.
- High Impact Alliances
Educate Tomorrow maintains an active role in coalitions and has developed powerful partnerships that are leveraged to better serve the population. These coalitions include Florida REACH, Positive Pathways, Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, Fostering Academic Achievement Nationwide (FAAN) and John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY).
Educate Tomorrow has a well-established partnership with The Lawrence E. White Family Foundation (LEWFF). LEWFF provides as-needed funds to eligible Educate Tomorrow scholars. ET anticipates that LEWFF will continue to substantially increase funding to reach additional scholars.
Collective Impact Theory: The Educate Tomorrow leadership team engages collective impact partners for each project, including the Florida REACH Network. Using the Collective Impact framework and its five main components of a successful collaboration (a common agenda, consistent data collection, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous communication and leadership provided by a backbone organization; Kania & Kramer, 2011), the Educate Tomorrow team engages, retains and impacts the participants to align with our shared vision.
Trauma-Informed Approach: Our on-campus college coaches are trained to use trauma-informed approaches with the students who access the campus-based supports in order to develop trusting relationships with students that empower them to thrive and dream about their futures. The trauma-informed approach is framed by six key principles: safety; trustworthiness and transparency; peer support; collaboration and mutuality; empowerment, voice and choice; and cultural, historical, and gender issues (SAMHSA, 2018).
Intrusive Advising: Intrusive Advising has been supported by research as being effective in working with at-risk students (Heisserer & Parette, 2002). Intrusive Advising gets to the roots of the student's challenge and involves the student in generating possible resolutions (Earl, 1987). Intrusive advising techniques often prevent emergencies because of its proactive nature; coach and student together are thinking of potential problems that may lie ahead. The coach develops intentional and caring relationships with students to build trust and create a safe space to ask difficult questions about a student's motives, housing stability, family relationships, or academics. Intrusive Advising has multiple approaches, including Appreciative Advising, which is the preferred approach of Educate Tomorrow College Coaches.
Appreciative Advising: A strengths-based approach to intrusive advising. Appreciative advising has six phases: disarm, discover, dream, design, deliver, and don't settle (Bloom, et al., 2008):
- Disarm: College coaches purposefully design the work or meeting space to be welcoming and reflective of the coach’s personality and make them comfortable in the space.
- Discover: To learn about students, coaches use non-judgmental open-ended questions when asking about students' academic and personal journeys.
- Dream: Continue to use open-ended questions to ask about students' goals, aspirations, and steps toward reaching the goals.
- Design: College coach and student co-create an action plan to reach the students' goals, including who will support the student along the way, potential challenges that may arise, and ways to celebrate the accomplishments.
- Deliver: The student delivers the plan that has been put into place with the coach, working through challenges, and celebrating the successes along the way.
- Don't Settle: The coach encourages the student to strive for the stars and not to be satisfied with the simplest accomplishments or goals.
2020 Goals and Focus Areas
Educate Tomorrow has identified the following three priority areas for 2020. As a result of these goals, Educate Tomorrow will serve additional students in need, develop a high-performing network, improve its ability to scale, generate research, improve retention and attainment rates, enhance student success practices, and engage new funders.
- Network Infrastructure & Development: Florida Reach strengthens colleges and universities to help students succeed. This is accomplished by building and maintaining relationships between colleges, universities and public/private child welfare agencies, while adding value in the areas of shared measurement, data pooling, promotion of best practices, and support and professional development of college coaches. To raise awareness and spur action, the network connects and unites on-campus college coaches, postsecondary administrators, child welfare professionals, statewide leaders, and legislators.
As the designated backbone agency of Florida Reach, Educate Tomorrow is interested in increasing our capacity to advance the following activities:
- Expansion of the network
- Increase the membership base of Florida Reach; identify and recruit those in the field doing the work but not part of the network; cast a broader net and invite complementary service organizations.
- Expand a system of support and services for existing college programs and new college programs to hire and support college coaches to support the population.
- Awareness and Coalition Building
- Conduct community engagement.
- Inspire, activate and lead stakeholder, community and government efforts in Florida to support dedicated College Coaches and thereby college success for students in the population.
- Create awareness of the barriers to success that the population faces every day in postsecondary education.
- Broaden and deepen a statewide coalition made up of individuals and institutions that understand and support dedicated college coaches for the population on college and university campuses.
- Improve the collaboration of state policy leaders and institutions of higher education around serving the population.
- Training and Technical Assistance: Increase the level of student-facing services performed by the institutions through training, professional development and real-time support.
- Provide statewide system of support and services for each dedicated college coach, from recruitment to onboarding and professional development to on-the-job training. Remain invested in the success of each dedicated coach in the success of their personal and professional development by offering phone support, monthly team building calls and regular conferences, forums and training sessions.
- Help participating institutions better incorporate data analytics to improve their student success practices and continually expand best practices.
- Funding: Identify new funding resources for the network, its institutions and for ET to expand its work.
- Research & Data Collection: Develop and continuously improve processes to collect consistent and valid data on the population’s postsecondary success (including retention rates, persistence rates, and graduation rates).
- Promote data collection strategies and a common language related to data.
- Analyze data for key metrics including rates for persistence, retention, attainment, and graduation.
- Develop and provide research summaries to and policymakers and other stakeholders.
- Conduct further research on Educate Tomorrow’s model including comparing effectiveness of students who receive coaching and financial support versus those who only receive coaching.
- Expand student support throughout Florida to:
- Establish new College Coaches along with training and support
- Expand student support in the form of financial counseling / advising that focuses on financial support for students while College Coach focuses on academic and life skills. The combination of the College Coach and the Scholarship Specialist, working collaboratively, creates a system of support and services that is uniquely powerful.
- Focus on improving retention and completion through intensive advising (eg: appreciative advising), tutoring, academic coaching, and related services, and improving the consistency around the processes and uses of the tuition exemption and its associated policies.
- Leverage nontraditional scholarships such as emergency-based funds, graduation incentives, paid-work opportunities / stipends, bonuses and completion and performance-based awards. Scale up current funding partnership with LEWFF and increase students served from 380 to 1,000.
- Educate Tomorrow App: Use this mobile or desktop app as a case management tool to connect your students with goal setting and life coaching and help them stay on track with their life and school goals. Students earn points for their successes which can be used to “purchase” rewards. To download the Educate Tomorrow app you can enter "Educate Tomorrow" in the apple or android app stores.
- Promoting Degree Attainment Among Former Foster Youth: In 2019 Educate Tomorrow partnered with Helios Education Foundation to publish a policy brief exploring Florida's Policies, Programs, and Practices to Improve Post-secondary Education for Foster Youth.