President Barack Obama Praises Innovative Riverside County Education Collaborative at White House College Opportunity Day of Action

college opportunity day of actionWASHINGTON, D.C. – In comments at today’s White House College Opportunity Day of Action in Washington, D.C., President Obama recognized the Riverside County Education Collaborative (RCEC)–an innovative partnership in the Inland Empire that was formed in response to the White House request to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

“The Riverside County Education Collaborative in California has set a goal of increasing FAFSA completion by 30% and they are working to ensure that fewer students need remedial classes when they get to college,” President Obama said.

A contingent of seven Riverside County educators joined President Obama, Vice President Biden, the First Lady, college presidents, and hundreds of education leaders from around the nation at the second White House College Opportunity Day of Action.

Attendees included:

  • Kenneth M. Young, Riverside County Superintendent of Schools
  • Dr. Judy D. White, Superintendent, Moreno Valley Unified School District
  • Timothy Ritter, Superintendent, Temecula Valley Unified School District
  • Dr. Kim Wilcox, Chancellor, University of California at Riverside
  • Mary Ann Edwards, Mayor, City of Temecula
  • Tom Spillman, Dean of Counseling and Student Services, Mt. San Jacinto College
  • Mark LeNoir, Principal in Residence, Riverside County Office of Education

“We are pleased that the President has recognized the work we are doing in Riverside County at improving college and career readiness,” said Kenneth M. Young, Riverside County Superintendent of Schools. “We are confident that the county is on the right track and that we will continue seeing improvement among all student groups.”

Later in the day, Young presented at a breakout session following panel discussions on college opportunity and the President’s address.

RCEC is a grassroots movement in southern California with diverse cross-sector leadership throughout the Riverside/San Bernardino county areas. The RCEC formed in July 2014 in response to participation in a working session at the U.S. Department of Education. Representing members from area school districts, higher education, city/county officials, and private industry, RCEC collectively commits to the following goals geared to increase postsecondary access and attainment in our community through the 2019 school year:

  • Increase percentage of students applying to three or more colleges by 60%.
  • Increase percentage of FAFSA completions from 64% to 93% through school years 18-19.
  • Increase the percentage of students enrolling in postsecondary education from 52% to 65%.
  • Decrease students needing remediation upon entering college, from 2.6% to 20%.

To increase college access, the RCEC will incorporate strategies such as professional development opportunities for high school counselors on FAFSA preparation and completion, and the integration of FAFSA completion into school curriculum. College applications from California’s postsecondary institutions will also be integrated into the school curriculum. In its efforts to prevent “summer melt”, the Collaborative will track postsecondary enrollment and increase its communications with those students enrolled during the summer months to help guarantee they enter the first year of postsecondary education. Finally, the collaborative will strive to reduce remediation by encouraging a college-going culture beginning at the middle school level, offering parent workshops to help increase parent involvement in their student’s education, offer special programs for students that need additional support, and ensure college level coursework is offered to students once they reach high school.

Additional RCEC members not in attendance at the summit include: Darren Daniel, Murrieta Valley Unified; Michael R. McCormick, Val Verde Unified School District; Robyn Kisinger, AVID; Sandra Mayo, Moreno Valley College; Matt Cepi, California State University, San Marcos.