Local students win art scholarships from national nonprofit StriveTogether

Two students in the tri-county region were named recipients of the Art Inspires scholarship by StriveTogether, a national nonprofit working to improve education for every child. Students in nearly 70 communities across the county were asked to create pieces of art that reflect StriveTogether’s vision and core values, including educational equity.

Lauren DeMarco

Lauren DeMarco

Only students in a community served by a partnership in the StriveTogether Cradle to Career Network were eligible to apply. Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC), which serves Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties, is a StriveTogether partnership.

Lauren DeMarco and Camille Richmond are two Charleston-area student artists among five total awardees chosen nationwide. The scholarship winners each will receive a $1,000 college scholarship and have their work displayed at StriveTogether’s Cincinnati headquarters.

“As the cost of higher education continues to increase, paying for college has financially strained many of our students. Opportunities, like the Art Inspires scholarship, to help cover those costs are more important than ever,” TCCC CEO John C. Read said. “We, at TCCC, are proud of these talented artists from our very own community and congratulate them on their exceptional work.”

Lauren DeMarco, who graduated from Academic Magnet High School in North Charleston, is attending Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C., where she plans to major in English and visual art. As an aspiring magazine writer and editor, DeMarco spends her time tutoring and mentoring low-income students, and she hopes to one day create a magazine for girls that encourages their academic ability and promotes their achievements. DeMarco’s winning art piece depicts a student climbing a staircase, representing the overall educational journey to which every child should have the right.

Lauren DeMarco

Camille Richmond

Camille Richmond, who plans to major in international business and economics at the University of South Carolina, just graduated from the Charleston County School of the Arts. Throughout high school, Richmond volunteered with the local community center, the Felix Pinckney Community Center, where she tutored first-graders and learned valuable lessons about the importance of providing early educational opportunities to decrease the achievement gap in the education system.

“My community has been the leading driving force encouraging me to want to give back,” Richmond said. “My eyes were opened to the many obstacles facing low-income, working parents, one of which is finding safe, reliable and affordable child care. As children need to be educated and encouraged to aim high from the very beginning, early education programs can decrease the achievement gap in our public education system.”

Richmond’s artistic display of this ongoing effort is just one of many ways StriveTogether seeks to garner support and awareness of this important cause.

“StriveTogether commends these young artists who were so keenly able to depict our realities and societal goals with their artistic vision and talent,” said StriveTogether President and CEO Jennifer Blatz. “With this scholarship, StriveTogether hopes to encourage these students as they pursue higher education to continue to be creative and express their own views, especially through their art.”

To view a PDF version of this press release, click here.

Jackson, Postlewait elected to TCCC Board of Directors

Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC), a nonprofit organization that works to improve educational outcomes for all, has added new board members.

On June 20, the TCCC Board of Directors elected Jessica Jackson, director of Boeing Global Engagement for the Southeast, and Gerrita Postlewait, superintendent of the Charleston County School District, to serve three-year terms.

Jackson oversees the charitable investment strategy and employee engagement for Boeing sites across the Southeast. She has a master’s degree from Georgetown University and previously served as a vice president at the S.C. Federal Credit Union and director of communications at the Maryland Hospital Association. Jackson also served as a TCCC board member from 2013 to 2016 and is currently convener of TCCC’s High School Graduation Network.

Jackson replaces Joan Robinson-Berry on the board. Robinson-Berry, who was vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina, was recently promoted to vice president of engineering, maintenance and modifications for Boeing Global Services in Texas. She joined the TCCC board in October 2016 and stepped down earlier this month.

Postlewait was named CCSD’s superintendent in 2015. She previously served as the assistant vice president for ACT in Iowa, chief K-12 officer for The Stupski Foundation in California and superintendent of the Horry County School District. Postlewait is a graduate of West Virginia University and has served on TCCC’s Lowcountry Education Consortium since 2015.

Postlewait replaces Joe Pye on the board. Pye, superintendent of Dorchester School District 2, joined the TCCC board in June 2015 and recently completed a three-year term.

“I am pleased that Jessica Jackson and Gerrita Postlewait have joined the TCCC Board of Directors. Their energy and ideas are sure to make an important impact on our dynamic board,” said Anita Zucker, CEO of The InterTech Group and chair of the TCCC Board. “I am incredibly grateful for the work and leadership of Joan Robinson-Berry and Joe Pye. They were both tremendous assets and will be missed.”

To view a PDF version of this press release, click here.

TCCC receives $40,000 grant to focus on FAFSA

National College Access Network (NCAN) has selected Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative (TCCC) to receive a $40,000 grant for the 2018-2019 FAFSA Completion Challenge.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) provides grants, loans and work-study funds to students and is a pivotal part in many students’ decision to attend college. NCAN challenges each of the 25 grant receipts to increase their city’s FAFSA completion rates by at least 5 percentage points for the graduating high school class of 2019.

TCCC will work in partnership with Charleston County School District, the City of Charleston and Trident Technical College over the next year to meet that goal.

“Many of our most promising, college-bound students miss out on Pell Grant opportunities and other forms of financial aid because they don’t complete the FAFSA,” TCCC CEO John C. Read said. “This NCAN grant will empower TCCC and our partners to help more students get the financial assistance they need to attend and successfully complete college.”

The Kresge Foundation and Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates funded the grant. The 2018-2019 competition builds on the success of the original Kresge-funded 2016-2017 FAFSA Completion Challenge.

“The 2016-17 Challenge demonstrated that cities could achieve significant progress in just one school year by working collaboratively across sectors to give students the FAFSA completion support they need,” said Caroline Altman Smith, Kresge’s deputy director for its education program. “This is a high-leverage investment for philanthropy because the FAFSA enables students to tap into huge amounts of government resources that often go unclaimed.”

NCAN will award a $100,000 grand prize in September 2019 to one of the 25 cities based on a holistic review of the percentage growth in completions, adoption of effective strategies, barriers overcome and likelihood of sustainability.

To view a PDF version of this press release, click here.

Only a few days left to submit FAFSA

The state deadline to submit the the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is approaching fast!

Students in South Carolina who are planning to attend college between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019 must submit the FAFSA by June 30, 2018. That’s only a few days away!

The FAFSA is how students apply for federal grants, work-study funds, student loans and scholarships to pay for college.

Here are some tips for completing the FAFSA:

1.) The official FAFSA website is fafsa.gov. You should never be asked to pay to complete the FAFSA. It’s always FREE.

2.) Fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible and definitely before June 30!

3.) It’s important to get an FSA ID (username and password) before filling out the FAFSA form. When you register for an FSA ID, you may need to wait up to three days before you can use it to sign your FAFSA form electronically. Create an FSA ID at StudentAid.gov/fsaid.

4.) Colleges can’t see the other schools you’ve added, so you should add ALL colleges you are considering to your FAFSA, even if you aren’t sure if you’ll apply or be accepted. You can add up to 10 schools at a time.

CEO John Read speaks to Rotary Club of North Charleston Breakfast

Thanks to the Rotary Club of North Charleston Breakfast for inviting TCCC CEO John Read to speak during today’s meeting!

Math professionals propose end of course math exam requirements

Math professionals at the district and college level, supported by the Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative, have been working to open pathways to college and careers in science, business, technology, engineering and other STEM-related disciplines.

This Math Pathways Project Team (MPPT) has been assessing the effectiveness of end of course examinations for high school math courses. Common end of course exams for Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 are being administered or are soon to be administered across the state of South Carolina.

After careful study, this team has reached consensus on the following recommendations directed to leadership within the Berkeley County, Charleston County, Dorchester District 2 and Dorchester District 4 school districts.

  1. High school math courses beyond Algebra I and Algebra 2 (e.g. Geometry and Precalculus) should include a final course exam that is common across each school district. These common final course exams should be created or obtained and used across each school district.
  2. Each end of course exam should be aligned exclusively to the set of priority standards that are set forth for that course.
  3. These common final exams should count for at least 15% of the student’s final grade for the course.

The state has imposed across all school districts a consistent final exam for Algebra 1 and Algebra 2 that is already planned for implementation. State-level end of course final exams have not been imposed for courses beyond Algebra 2 (e.g. Geometry and Precalculus).

The MPPT has concluded that most final exams are not common for high school math courses beyond Algebra 1, even within school districts. Therefore, the final exams administered to students for these courses may have little to no accountability for the content that should be assessed.

To ensure that all students are assessed on their proficiency with the standards applicable to each course, the MPPT strongly encourages that, by the 2020 school year, each respective school district create or obtain and use common final course exams for Geometry and Precalculus. These common exams should be tied exclusively to the state adopted South Carolina College- and Career-Ready Standards for Mathematics.

Furthermore, the MPPT has concluded that end of course exams are not weighted consistently for the final course grade for students. To assure that students enrolled in the same course are assessed equitably and consistently for the student’s final grade for a course, common final exams should account for at least 15% of the final grade for each course. MPPT also recommends that these final course exam results should not be used to measure teacher effectiveness.

About the Math Pathways Project Team

The Math Pathways Project Team (MPPT) was initiated in October of 2015 by Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative’s Postsecondary Education Consortium and High School Graduation Network to open pathways to STEM-related college and career options. MPPT is comprised of representation from the region’s four school districts (Berkeley County, Charleston County, Dorchester District 2 and Dorchester District 4) and colleges and universities across the state (Charleston Southern University, Clemson University, The Citadel, College of Charleston, University of South Carolina and Trident Technical College). Since that date, the team has been engaged in the review and evaluation of the region’s school district math curriculum, the colleges’ and universities’ entry requirements and the readiness of high school students to enter post-secondary education and/or to enter into the workforce.

To view a PDF version of this press release, click here.