The Foundation for Tacoma Students opened its doors to more than 120 students and their families as part of a recent Financial Aid Completion Night. SAMi Co-Director Liz Minks worked with FFTS staff to coordinate the event focused on providing individualized support to students attending four Tacoma high schools: SAMi, SOTA, IDEA, and Willie Stewart.
Sixteen community volunteers representing Tacoma Public Schools, Bates Technical College, College Success Foundation, Metropolitan Development Council, Pacific Lutheran University, and Tacoma Community College helped families complete financial aid forms, college and scholarship applications, and the What’s Next Senior Survey— a tool that helps match students with community-based mentors who provide 1:1 postsecondary planning and transition support.
“We recognize that it’s not easy to navigate these processes and systems,” said Wendy Holcomb, Strategy Manager for Campaign Free Aid, a postsecondary initiative of FFTS focused on increasing financial aid completion rates across Pierce County. “The community support offered helped alleviate that stress and ensured that no student or family in attendance had to navigate these processes alone.”
Data collected at the event also deepened understanding of where students need the most help and where and how resources can be better allocated to support students with key postsecondary planning and enrollment tasks.
We’re thankful to all of our community partners and families who showed up in support of youth. We also celebrate the progress students made in taking intentional steps toward pursuing their postsecondary plans.
“This is what we mean when we talk about a coordinated system of supports,” said Rodney Wolfenbarger, Associate Director of Pierce County Pathways, a range of FFTS initiatives enabling postsecondary success and economic mobility for all students.
“It’s the community coming together to affirm students and help them navigate from where they are to where they’re trying to go. It’s about ensuring that every student has the information, tools, opportunities, and support needed for success.”
Visit www.graduatetacoma.org/data to learn more about how the Foundation uses data-driven insights to help every child achieve success from cradle to career.