Students are the Answer

keith twitter picFor those of you who I haven’t met in person, I am Keith Frome and I became CEO full-time this summer. I was a co-founder of College Summit two decades ago with J.B. Schramm and Derek Canty. I created the writing curriculum we use in the workshops, and have stayed associated with the organization ever since. I could not have been more excited and proud to have been chosen by the Board of Directors to be the second-ever CEO in College Summit’s history.

When I signed on in this new role, I was determined to address a situation that I found unacceptable.  Across the country, only five percent of the students who need college access assistance get the help they need. This saddens me, but more than anything, it motivates me.

I spent the summer consulting closely with our senior team and incredible staff around the country, as well as having meaningful conversations with volunteers, alumni, school officials and funders to help me understand how to reach more students and transform more lives. The answer was clear. We can help more students when College Summit becomes a simpler, more focused organization that reduces costs and complexity.

This simpler and focused College Summit is built around our Peer Leaders – the program element that makes our organization so special and effective. We’ve given this program that we’re offering for the coming school year a name – PeerForward – which recognizes the centrality of the students and the direction we are heading.

Increasing our support for our young people to be agents of change for themselves and their schools, while eliminating some of our non-Peer Leader related work, allows us to expand our impact from helping tens of thousands of students each year to hundreds of thousands. We are committed to growing the number of partner schools in the markets where we’ve traditionally provided our program and increasing our footprint nationally. Our goal is 500 Peer Leader teams in 500 schools in the next decade. This adds up to College Summit connecting at least 1.8 million young people to college and career.

For those familiar with the basics of the program, there are two changes that are obvious from this graphic. The first is that we are including Juniors on the Peer Leader team for the first-time ever. This will ensure the College Summit program is felt deeper into the student body. The second is that we are capping teams at 8 students. This standardization is part of the new program’s drive for simplicity and affordability.

The enhancements that we’ve communicated to schools and funders have been incredibly well-received. We are receiving praise for our bold actions and foresight. All involved are excited to roll-out PeerForward this summer at workshops and this fall in schools. For now, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for continuing to stay engaged with College Summit, our students and the mission we share: to transform the lives of low-income youth by connecting them to college and career. I appreciate you.


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