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Report: Continued focus on college readiness is helping Rhode Island students

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (June 25, 2018) – The Onward We Learn of Rhode Island today released its 11th annual report card, which details the impact of its work to increase the college readiness and success of Rhode Island’s low-income students.

The new report shows that students who are members of The Onward We Learn have graduated from high school, enrolled in higher education, and persisted in college at increasingly higher rates. From 2012 to 2017, for example, the high school graduation rate for Onward We Learn students grew steadily, and in 2017 it exceeded the rate for all Rhode Island students. The report also shows substantial growth in college enrollment rates for Onward We Learn students over the same time period.

“I am excited to announce that this edition of our annual report card continues to show that we are making progress in our mission to increase educational success for youth in Rhode Island’s low-income communities,” said Edwin Pacheco, chair of The Onward We Learn board of directors. “For the first time, all our major success metrics are greater than 80 percent. These results demonstrate that the advisory services and programming we provide are having a measurable positive impact on college readiness for Rhode Island youth. They also show the tremendous amount of hard work and determination our students are devoting to accomplishing their educational goals.”

“My journey to college has been filled with lots of ups and downs and sacrifices for me and my mother,” said Carlos Ferman, who graduated from Providence Career & Technical Academy this spring. “All along the way, The Onward We Learn has supported me more than I can say, especially with helping me develop my math and public speaking skills and taking me on tours of colleges that I never would have been able to visit on my own. When I was younger, college wasn’t something I thought of doing. I grew up with people who had dreams but were never able to fulfill them. Now I am chasing the dream of becoming an architect. I want to design buildings that are lasting works of art and that will be there long after I am gone.” This fall, Carlos will enroll at Roger Williams University with plans to pursue a B.A. in Architecture.

“I congratulate The Onward We Learn of Rhode Island for the solid results they are achieving in supporting low-income and first-generation students on the path to higher education,” said Postsecondary Commissioner Brenda Dann-Messier. “The indicators in this new annual report card show that the support The Onward We Learn provides leads to concrete, meaningful outcomes for students. Especially now, when postsecondary attainment is recognized as crucial to the economic vitality of our state, the work of The Onward We Learn has never been more important.”

The 2018 report card compares six years of high school graduation rates for Onward We Learn students to rates for all Rhode Island students and all Rhode Island students who qualify for free or reduced school lunch. From 2012 to 2017, graduation rates for Onward We Learn students increased from 70 percent to 86 percent. During the same period, rates for all Rhode Island students rose more slowly, from 77 percent to 84 percent, and rates for students who qualify for free or reduced school lunch increased from 66 percent to 76 percent.

The report card also shows data for postsecondary enrollment and persistence. Between 2012 and 2017, the rate of Onward We Learn students enrolling in college within one year of high school graduation increased from 69 percent to 84 percent. Between 2014 and 2016, the percentage of Onward We Learn students attending four-year colleges who returned for a second year, or persisted, grew from 80 percent to 83 percent. First-year persistence rates are a commonly used measure to indicate the likelihood of degree completion.

On June 26, The Onward We Learn will gather with supporters to mark the achievements attained in the 2018 annual report card with an event called “Celebrate the 80s” from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Free Play Bar & Arcade, 182 Pine Street, Providence. Admission is $10, and the public is invited.