Simon Youth Foundation is known for its commitment to helping at-risk students graduate from high school through its national network of non-traditional schools called Simon Youth Academies.
Possibly a less publically known but equally emphasized component of the SYF mission is to extend post-secondary education opportunities to our students. Annually as winter gives way to spring, the educators at our 23 Simon Youth Academies use special events with students to illustrate the benefits of earning a college or technical school degree.
|SYF students in Wichita at a FAFSA workshop|
At the Simon Youth Academy at Towne East Square in Wichita, Kan., administrator Ernie Sweat and his teaching staff hosted a Feb. 10, 2012, workshop on FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid.
Wearing t-shirts provided by SYF education partner Get Schooled, another national non-profit organization that promotes post-secondary education opportunities, the students learned how the free application process can open the door the financial aid.
“For many of our students, the idea of graduating high school was a leap of faith in itself, and you can image what the mindset is when thinking about college,” Sweat says. “We want them to understand that a 2- or 4-year college can be a reality for them, and programs like FAFSA can make it possible.”
Some 680 miles from Wichita, the Simon Youth Pacers Academy at Washington Square in Indianapolis, Ind., requires its seniors to apply to at least two post-secondary institutions. Impressively, 20 of the Academy’s students had already received acceptance letters as of mid-February, 2012.
To build on that momentum, the Academy hosted its own FAFSA event on Feb. 12.
“We were honored to be a host site for the College Go Sunday program, and our Academy students and other students from all over our region of Indianapolis were able to attend the event,” says Teresa Knox, the principal at the Pacers Academy.
Knox says approximately 50 students and their families participated in College Go Sunday at her Academy, receiving one-on-one help with filling out their FAFSA forms and getting their financial-aid questions answered.
“Despite the benefits, the decision to go to college can be very difficult for our students due to challenging personal and family circumstances, but we work very hard to remove as many obstacles to enrollment as possible in order to ignite students’ hope that dreams of college can be a reality,” Knox says.