PROVIDENCE, R.I. (June 29, 2022): The state’s most comprehensive college readiness program, formerly known as the Onward We Learn of Rhode Island, announced today it has changed its name and brand identity to Onward We Learn.
The announcement follows an eight-month process that engaged over 125 students, staff, alumni, parents and community partners, and signals a renewed commitment to helping thousands of Rhode Island students each year build a personalized pathway to a more successful future.
“We believe that this new identity better aligns with our mission, vision and values as the state’s preeminent college access nonprofit. Our mission is the same, yet Onward We Learn reflects our continued work to be more inclusive and to meet students where they are, supporting them on their journeys to be lifelong learners, successful individuals and, in many cases, the first in their families to attend and complete college,” said President and CEO Andrew Bramson.
The vast majority – about 70% – of students in Onward We Learn have a traditional four-year college experience. By emphasizing lifelong learning and forward progress, the new name recognizes the changing postsecondary landscape and validates the experiences of hardworking students who instead pursue alternative pathways such as apprenticeships, certificates and stackable credentials.
“The data is strong that college continues to be the most effective path to social and economic mobility, especially for students of color. As a student-centered organization that seeks to include all perspectives and experiences, we want to make room for many different pathways as we look to the future,” Bramson said. “Students have a range of postsecondary options, and we want to celebrate pathways that work for them; we must transition from the notion that the classic college experience is an all-or-nothing proposition. The most powerful word in our new name is ‘onward,’ which signifies mobility and trajectory. When you think about college or other postsecondary options, think about Onward We Learn.”
The organization, founded in 1989 as the Children’s Crusade for Higher Education, engages students in urban school districts starting in middle school and provides college readiness, career exploration and academic support programming through high school and into college. Advisors work hands-on within schools and after-school programming.
“This relaunch marks an exciting new chapter for an organization that has been making a difference for Rhode Island students and families for more than three decades,” said Meg Geoghegan, chair of the Onward We Learn board of directors. “Our impact is felt by the students who receive academic support and college counseling, and as a result become first-generation graduates from competitive universities across the country. It is felt by our families, who access assistance with financial aid and other support services that set their children up for success. And it is felt by our state, which reaps the benefits of this community of talented, innovative and energetic young leaders.”
Onward We Learn supports more than 4,000 students in middle school, high school and college each year with one-on-one advising and year-round programs that focus on academic enrichment, social and emotional development, career education, and postsecondary preparation to help them become the first in their families to earn a college degree. Middle schoolers who attend traditional public schools and select public charter schools and independent schools in Providence, Cranston, Pawtucket, Central Falls, Woonsocket and West Warwick are eligible to enroll in Onward We Learn. Learn more at www.onwardwelearn.org.