CFES).Since its beginnings in 1991, College For Every Student (CFES) has been “committed to raising the academic aspirations and performance of underserved youth so that they can prepare for, gain access to, and succeed in college” (
The organization targets students from low income constituencies and children that have been given inadequate service in their educations with the aim of helping them succeed in high school and preparing them to pursue higher education. In many cases CFES has enabled children to become the first in their families to attend college. CFES’ diverse outreach constitutes “150 rural and urban schools and districts in  states” (CFES). It is the only nonprofit organization that works with rural schools in the United States.
Move to Essex, NY
In January, CFES relocated their administrative head office to Essex from Middlebury, Vermont. Superintendent Broadwell of Willsboro Central School (WCS) says that it is “wonderful having CFES on this side of the lake.” Their new office is located behind the Essex Inn, which hosts training and workshops for CFES volunteers. The location near the Essex-Charlotte ferry offers convenience for those who have to fly into Burlington and travel to Essex.
The local founders are Karen and Rick Dalton. Rick Dalton, the President and CEO of CFES, affirms that CFES has a “firm commitment to rural students” and the “revitalization of Essex.” He mentions that “education strengthens communities,” and I believe that to be unequivocally true. Our community can only benefit from our children gaining better educational support and opportunities.
What schools does CFES work with? There are ten Adirondack high schools currently working with CFES including Willsboro Central School. CFES has successfully impacted the lives of many WCS students by broadening their horizons. Just last week several WCS students traveled to New York City for a cultural exchange, and NYC students came to WCS the previous fall. This connection brings urban and rural kids together to form lasting friendships and allows them to experience what life is like in in totally dissimilar surroundings. Willsboro Central School’s Superintendent Broadwell mentioned that CFES has enabled several WCS students to be able to attend and speak at national conferences, another example of CFES’s enrichening impact on area students.
Students at WCS are also elgible to participate in a CFES summer program called College Explore that allows high school students to attend college for a few days like an average college student–living in dorms, eating at dining halls, attending classes, and meeting current college students. The influence of CFES has resulted in other smaller programs as well. For example, at the end of the school year the 6th graders are treated to Etiquette Night at the Turtle Island Cafe where they can experience what it is like to eat at a fine dining restaurant.
Three Core Practices
Here are the three key programs that CFES uses to help children succeed in their educations:
- “Pathways to College is a practice in which CFES K-12 schools partner with colleges to provide opportunities for their CFES Scholars to visit college campuses, interact with college students and faculty, and gain exposure to admissions, financial aid, and other higher education components.”
- Mentoring partners CFES Scholars with older more experienced individuals [peers (including other Scholars), adults, teachers, and/or college students] who can serve as role models and become friends with their mentees in an effort to foster academic and personal growth in both parties. All Willsboro Central School (WCS) juniors and seniors have been paired with a mentor that they meet with once a month at least. According to Rick Dalton, WCS is unique in that many of the mentors are community members; the Essex community offers a “sense of family” and plays a “significant leadership role in shaping the destiny” of how CFES succeeds here. Below is a video with first hand accounts from mentors, mentees, and CFES leaders around the country:
- Leadership through Service is a program that designs activities “to help CFES Scholars identify and express their leadership potential to improve their school, neighborhood, and/or the global community [through activities such as volunteering, community service, and fundraising.] Gaining leadership skills and taking responsibility for others contributes to Scholars’ self-confidence, stimulating greater personal aspirations for college and building resilience that leads to college success.”
Visit the CFES’s homepage to find out more details, and there you can also donate to the organization if you desire. Check out the 2011 report on CFES progress and activities throughout the United States and visit the CFES blog called the College Corner where former scholars helped by CFES share their experiences and wisdom for current and future students.
If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact CFES:
Or contact Willsboro Central School at 518-963-4456 for more details about the local influence of CFES.