CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--rootEd Alliance, a philanthropic organization that funds, trains, and places dedicated college and career advisors in rural high schools, today announced it has achieved strong momentum in boosting students’ postsecondary success amid the national decline in college enrollment rates. Following a series of recent expansions, rootEd Alliance is now helping about 6,200 students in 56 rural high schools across Missouri, Texas, Idaho, and Tennessee prepare for life after high school. It has served nearly 12,000 rural high school students since its inception.
“Students in rural settings have long faced unique barriers to postsecondary education and training. Research shows that not only are rural students less likely to enroll in college than their peers, but those who do enroll are less likely to finish,” said Noa Meyer, president of rootEd Alliance and partner and head of philanthropy and social impact at BDT & Company. “rootEd Alliance is dedicated to ensuring these students have the support they need to chart a path toward prosperity for themselves and their communities. We’ve seen success in our efforts to date and are thrilled to expand our reach."
Recent data show the U.S. now has one million fewer college students than before the start of the pandemic. The nation’s fall 2021 freshman class was 9 percent smaller compared to pre-pandemic levels in fall 2019. The declines are especially acute for community colleges, where the majority of rural students enroll.
Since fall 2019, as the rest of the nation has seen declines in college-going rates, schools with rootEd Alliance advisors have seen college enrollment rates increase by seven percent. Moreover, one-quarter of college-bound students at rootEd schools said they wouldn’t be going to college at all if it weren’t for their rootEd advisor.
Missouri is among the states to see an expansion in the number of students and schools served by rootEd Alliance this year. In fall 2021, rootEd Alliance partnered with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and Ozarks Technical Community College to launch a statewide initiative to hire, train, and place advisors in at least 135 additional rural high schools by 2023.
“As we continue to navigate the impact of the pandemic on our workforce, now more than ever, it is critical to support our students to build a bridge from high school to lifelong success," said Missouri Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven. "Placing dedicated college and career advisors in rural high schools provides students in rural communities exposure and access to a variety of postsecondary opportunities. rootEd Alliance offers an achievable, scalable solution.”
“By 2028, an estimated 65 percent of Missouri’s jobs will require some level of postsecondary training or education, but only 47 percent of the state’s working age population currently has any postsecondary credential,” said Ozarks Technical Community College Chancellor Hal Higdon. “Community colleges play a valuable role in narrowing this gap, particularly for rural students. We’re thrilled to continue to partner with rootEd Alliance to help students realize their potential.”
The initiative builds on rootEd Alliance’s strong record in Missouri, where it has worked in eight schools since 2019. In 2019-2020, postsecondary enrollment at these Missouri schools grew 5 percentage points more than at rural schools without a rootEd advisor, and students who graduated from schools with a rootEd advisor are staying in and persisting through college at a rate of up to 10 percentage points higher than their peers.
In addition to Missouri, rootEd Alliance expanded to 16 new high schools in Texas and one high school in Idaho over the past year.
About rootEd Alliance
rootEd Alliance, Inc. is a collaborative effort founded by family business owners and philanthropists who recognize that all students need more than a high school diploma to succeed in today’s economy. Rural students face unique barriers to pursuing a postsecondary pathway, and rootEd aims to remove these barriers and expand opportunity by investing philanthropic capital in a transformative advising model and partnering with states to bring it to scale. The rootEd model trains and places dedicated advisors in rural high schools. This ensures students have the resources they need to chart a path beyond high school—to the military or technical school, community college or a bachelor’s degree. The rootEd model has a proven track record of success across rural communities in Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, and Idaho. rootEd Alliance was born out of BDT & Company’s commitment to convening and catalyzing philanthropists around big ideas that are under-resourced and overlooked, with great potential for impact. For more information, please visit: https://rootEdAlliance.org/.