A Good News Story: Rep. Fattah Launches CORE Scholars on Their College Journey
PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA), architect of the CORE Scholars program that has helped more than 23,000 Philadelphia high school graduates realize their dreams of attending college, offered an inspirational sendoff today for CORE Scholars and a welcome for entering Temple University students.
The CORE Scholars program was created by Congressman Fattah, a lifelong champion and innovator in education reform and college preparedness for under-served students, in 2003. CORE Scholars typically outperform most of their Philadelphia peers, according to the National Student Clearinghouse, the national recognized authority on student achievement data.
CORE Scholars provides financial assistance for any Philadelphia graduating high school senior – public, charter, parochial, private – to enroll at a participating university or college. The program has distributed $28.3 million to about 23,800 Philadelphia graduates.
"When you graduate from college you will put yourself on a path to earn more than $1.5 million more over your lifetime," Fattah said, comparing the audience of about 200 students in Temple's Ritter Hall to those without a college degree. "Much more important is how much you are going to give back. What you're doing is not just for yourself, it's important for our country."
According to the National Student Clearinghouse's independent assessment, Philadelphia's college degree attainment rate over the course of ten years has been a mere 10 percent. In spite of this, 38 percent of CORE Scholars graduate in four years, and a full 51 percent of CORE Scholars graduate from college within six years.
The Clearinghouse report also points out how CORE Scholars provides critical incentive for many students to both finish high school and to move ahead to college. The report says 57 percent of participants said they were not sure that they would have been able to attend college full-time if it weren't for them receiving a CORE Scholarship. Eighty six (86) per cent said that their desire to attend college has increased as a result of their participation in the CORE Scholars Program. And 90 percent of them said that after becoming a CORE Scholar, they had a strong understanding of what they need to do to succeed in college.
CORE Scholars provides "promise" stipends for Philadelphia high school graduates enrolling at Temple, Penn, Community College of Philadelphia, Penn State, other Pennsylvania state universities and several private colleges. The program serves predominantly low-come students and families who may have no other means of advancing on to higher education.
In addition to direct tuition assistance, the CORE Scholars program also helps students apply for other forms of financial aid including federal Pell grants and Stafford loans, Pennsylvania's PHEAA scholarships, and the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC). Fattah has been deeply involved in the protection of these programs in the Federal budget and is the author of the AOTC.
Fattah, in his inspirational talk, compared college and career achievement to a relay race at the Olympics. Your parents, he told the students "pass the baton to you. Then you pass along the baton. The faster you run, the farther you run.
"Be persistent. Be determined. Be the person you know exists inside of you," Fattah said. "Everyone here will have your own challenges. You have to be bigger than your challenges. Get your own gold medal."
Following today's keynote, Fattah will be crossing the country and inspiring another group of students in the Washington State GEAR UP program in Seattle early next week. It's part of a trip that mostly focuses on visits to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California and entrepreneurs who have received NASA contracts for private ventures in space.
Fattah is creator of Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), the country's most successful early college awareness and preparation program. The meeting in Seattle provides a rare opportunity for the students to visit with the person who - through GEAR UP - is providing real opportunity for their future.
"I've been coast to coast and border to border to raise the profile for this much needed program that improves the life chances and nurtures the dreams of students from low income and under-served backgrounds," Fattah said. "This is energizing work for me, there is nothing as fulfilling as meeting bright young people and telling them yes, you can compete, yes, you can succeed, and if you work hard you will attain a college education with all its rewards and challenges."
GEAR UP has served 12 million students across the country who have received the necessary tools to equip and prepare them for a college education.
In Philadelphia, CORE Scholars Executive Director Donyale Y. H. Reavis introduced the Congressman and provided perspective on the program.
"For all college students today, and particularly for those from capital-challenged public school districts, college preparation is not a hurdle but a necessity," she said. "We are confident in the CORE model of final-mile scholarships coupled with hands-on writing coach workshops, financial literacy resources, and matched savings account programs for all Philadelphia high school students.
"CORE provides a compelling and successful model geared towards helping our young people thrive at the next level. We eagerly face the challenges ahead, together with the larger Philadelphia college prep community, as we join forces to help lift all Philadelphia students to greater levels of success."
SOURCE Office of Congressman Chaka FattahBack to top