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Reimagining the Road to Graduation

The Need for Extraordinary Systems to Get Students to and Through College

What is this website and who is behind it?

Reimagining the Road to Graduation tells the story of five students in California’s Bay Area, Minnesota’s Twin Cities, Texas’s Rio Grande Valley, and the Mississippi Delta to illustrate how young people are often left to navigate disjointed and inadequate systems as they prepare for and attend college. The five student personas featured on this site are grounded in the real stories and experiences of young people from across the country (in some cases, we have changed or combined identifying details, but each persona draws on students’ authentic experiences). 

Reimagining the Road to Graduation is a project of Bellwether Education Partners, a national nonprofit focused on dramatically changing education and life outcomes for underserved children. The findings and recommendations on this site build on Bellwether’s past work about young people experiencing education disruption, including a choose-your-own-adventure web game, video interview series, and series of reports, all of which can be found here.

To create this site, Bellwether spoke to 40 students and their caregivers as well as 40 adults representing schools, college access and success providers, institutions of higher education, funders, and local intermediaries across the country. Reimagining the Road to Graduation illustrates the lived experience of these students, including their dreams and challenges, and provides targeted recommendations for individuals and system leaders. 

This site was made possible by support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, a grantmaking foundation investing in knowledge that inspires informed action in democracy, education, and international peace since 1911. The views and analysis in this report — as well as any errors — are the responsibility of the authors alone.

Several of the organizations mentioned on this site or in the supplementary research materials are current or past clients of Bellwether. Bellwether maintained full editorial control of the work. A full list of clients can be found here.

Credits
  • Authors: Lina Bankert, Mike Boone, Indira Dammu, Hailly Korman, and Liz McNamee, with contributions from Jennifer Schiess, Nick Allen, and Paul Beach
  • Editors: Lindsay Ferguson and Tanya Paperny
  • Web development and graphic design: Giant Rabbit
  • Video trailer: Intercultural Productions
  • Copy editing: Super Copy Editors
  • Communications support: Michelle Lerner
  • Homepage header image: Allison Shelley for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

If you’d like to learn more about this work or the support Bellwether can offer your school or organization, contact us using the form below.

Acknowledgments

The authors would like to thank the many students who helped bring these experiences to life. We are grateful for their time and candor. We’d also like to thank the many adults who provided context on the college access and success landscape, connected us with students, and offered generous feedback on our findings and recommendations: 

Alvin Abraham, Michael Aldape, Evita Anaya, Britt Bass, Becca Bassett, Joe Brown, Lorna Contreras-Townsend, Raynell Crews-Gamez, Adrian Cross, Meredith Curry, Bill DeBaun, Rebecca De Leon, Suzanne Diggs-Wilborn, Tiffany Enriquez, Tina Fernandez, Janeira Forté, Alma Garcia, Phillip Garza, Kate Gluckman, Danielle Grant, Danielle Hayman, Erin Healy, Ann Hendrick, Angela Jerebek, Courtney Lange, Lynna Lei, Emily Lockwood, Melissa Long, Sheila Lopez, Rob Metz, Jeb Myers, Alton Nelson, Jennifer Nguyen, Patrick O’Donnell, Brent Parton, Kilsys Payamps-Roure, Christina Ritter, Rodney Rodriguez, Elizabeth Rojas, Hannah Scherer, Korynn Schooley, John Siapno, Elena Silva, Jeremiah Smith, Jen Stern, Doug Thompson, Tiffany Traille, Jason Weeby, Victoria Woo, Cecilia Zahedi

 

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