State Profile: California
California set a goal to expand ACAC efforts beyond schools served by the University of California, Berkeley's College Advising Corps program but needed the right partner with a strong relationship within the school districts. Enter AVID. The AVID Center has a well-established relationship with schools across California (and the country). And thanks to AVID's leadership, K-12, nonprofit, and higher education leaders in California were brought together to learn about the College Application Campaign and gauge interest for growth.
AVID's infrastructure and strong relationships allowed the state to quickly utilize AVID schools as pilot sites for growth in Orange County and San Bernardino County. Each pilot school was required to establish a team before committing to the campaign. These teams included the school counselor, a school administrator, the school's AVID coordinator and the AVID district director.
"You can't have one champion [leading the campaign]. You have to have a team to ensure success and dedication," said Rob Gira, AVID executive vice president. By September 2016, AVID confirmed 23 school teams between San Bernardino County and Orange County ready to lead a college application campaign.
The schools’ excitement was high even with a tight training and launch schedule. School administrators and staff quickly recognized the value of supporting all students in the college application process. One school went as far as collecting $2,000 in donations from school alumni and community members to help cover college application fees for students who didn’t qualify for a fee waiver. Thanks to the quick-thinking of this teacher, no application was left incomplete because of a fee waiver requirement.
Each county took a different approach in confirming school participation. Orange County decided to start with a small, yet diverse group of schools. This method allowed the county to monitor the campaign closely to determine how to replicate in districts that may not be 100 percent supportive. While in San Bernardino County, coordinators focused on engaging all schools with interest in participating.
For the 2017 campaign, California hopes to double school participation in Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Coordinators have already started planning and will host an informational session in March for new schools. The goal is to have schools recruited before breaking for summer.
The pilot year efforts in Orange County and San Bernardino County were a success thanks to the leadership of AVID. Parents are emailing principals thanking them for the event and juniors are asking if they too will get to participate in a college application campaign. Paolina Schiro, RIMS AVID Regional Coordinator in San Bernardino County, said it best, “You really can’t be unsuccessful in this work. If even one more student applies, it’s a success!” We couldn’t agree more!