June 2, 2023

Education Forward Arizona honors graduating college and high school scholars

Each May, Education Forward Arizona honors a new cohort of graduating college scholars who have achieved their post-secondary education goals, thanks to programs designed to increase college access and attainment across the state. In addition, the nonprofit celebrates student ambassadors who have completed its College Knowing & Growing program, and have graduated from high school, placing them on the path to create their own post-secondary education success stories.

86 Education Forward Arizona College Scholars

This year, Education Forward Arizona is celebrating 86 college graduate scholars. Many are first-generation college graduates, and most received scholarships from the Freeport-McMoRan Foundation or Education Forward Arizona along with mentorship support from Education Forward Arizona.

Among this year’s honorees are 30 Education Forward Arizona Scholars who received scholarships and support services, including 28 students who participated in the Freeport-McMoRan Native American Scholarship Program. As part of their scholarship opportunity, the students received support from Education Forward Arizona success advisers, who offered coaching and mentoring to help the students successfully navigate their college experience. Toward the end of their college experience, the advisers also helped students transition into careers.

“Each one of these Education Forward Arizona Scholars represents the future of our state,” said Rich Nickel, President and CEO of Education Forward Arizona. “Watching these driven and talented young Arizonans work to achieve educational success as they transition toward rewarding careers is a true honor.”

Additionally, more than 50 college students took advantage of the mentorship services, including resources and guidance to keep students on track to graduate, which is offered through Education Forward Arizona and its funders.

“These students have faced tremendous adversity, having overcome a number of obstacles to achieve a post-secondary education,” said Nickel. “Through their resiliency and resourcefulness, they have graduated from college and are on a career path for continued success in their lives.”

College Knowing & Going Student Ambassadors

With their post-secondary education journeys just beginning, another 59 Arizona high school graduates are well on their way, thanks to Education Forward Arizona’s College Knowing & Going program, which helps junior- and senior-year high school students imagine and realize how to continue their education after they graduate from high school. Students who participate in the College Knowing & Going program, which is funded by the Helios Education Foundation, are named ambassadors and help their friends and peers throughout the process of applying for financial aid, completing college applications, and going after scholarships.

The College Knowing & Going program uses a student-centered approach to create college readiness at 40 high schools in underserved communities throughout the state. It works to create a school-wide college-going culture in which all stakeholders – administration, counselors, teachers, community members, students, and families – work collaboratively to ensure that underserved Arizona students not only graduate from high school, but also attend (and graduate from) college.

“We know that Arizona has everything to gain when more students complete education and training after high school,” said Nickel. “All students deserve the opportunity to graduate high school; they need to be prepared for a wide array of pathways to continue learning, which will ultimately prepare them for their careers.”

A recent statewide study by Helios Education Foundation and Education Forward Arizona found that Arizona has billions to gain when more students go to college and receive education and training after high school. By increasing college enrollment by 20 percent, Arizona stands to benefit from more than $5 billion in annual gains attributable to factors like higher lifetime earnings, improved health, and increased workforce productivity.