Steps 4 Success
SAP Social Sabbatical Project Partner
In addition to its already thriving middle and high school programs, Chester County Futures is adding exciting new programming to provide resources and supports to its post-secondary students. Steps 4 Success is the newest program provided for Chester County Futures’ post-secondary students. Thanks to the generous efforts of partner organizations SAP and Pyxera Global, Chester County Futures was chosen as a candidate for the SAP Social Sabbatical Project. For six weeks, three SAP staff members worked intensively with Chester County Futures’ staff to create Steps 4 Success.
Steps 4 Success will utilize four key components to reach its goal of better preparing students for college, supporting them throughout their college education, and increasing the 4-year college graduation rate to 60%.
The four key components to this program are: Enhancement of the Alumni Committee; Social Media Strategy and Connection; Accountability and Rewards, and College Prep Bootcamp.
The creation and growth of the alumni committee, also a goal of the strategic plan, will allow college graduates who completed the Chester County Futures high school program to “pay it forward.” The responsibilities of the growing alumni network will include:
- Support Bootcamp via curriculum design & implementation
- Act as peer mentors where opportunities arise
- Participate in board level meetings where opportunities arise to provide student perspectives & testimonials
- Participate in high school after school events in order to share stories
- Increase CCF social media presence by contributing relevant content to support current student transitions
The focus of the social media strategy is to create an online community for current college students to interact with peers, CCF alumni, and CCF faculty. The social community, a private Facebook group for college students, will include relevant information such as tips on filling out the FAFSA, time management practices, social interaction, financial management, exam prep, and much more. The social media component of Steps 4 Success has been launched for current college students! The Class of 2016 will join the group upon completion of the bootcamp in August 2016. The social media connection allows for year-round access and support for our college-level students.
Accountability and Rewards will provide motivation to Chester County Futures Steps 4 Success students to:
- Join the Facebook group
- Continue interaction with peers, mentors & alumni
- Post comments, contents, photos, etc.
The highest-performing, and therefore the most engaged students, in the Facebook group will be rewarded monthly with prizes and gift certificates to local stores on their respective campuses.
The inaugural College Prep Bootcamp will be held on August 8, 2016 at SAP America in Newtown Square, PA for the 36 graduating seniors of the Class of 2016. The goals of the bootcamp include:
- To equip students entering college or trade school with skills that they’ll need to manage their time and money, and get them excited about their post-secondary school experience
- To connect students with each other as well as with alumni and create bonds early, building a strong social media community.
The day-long bootcamp will be mandatory for all scholarship recipients and will be optional for those students who deny or defer their post-secondary enrollment. The students will move through “stations”, performing hands-on exercises intermixed with presentations. Each station will be staffed by a combination of CCF professionals, alumni, and guest speakers. The lunch period will also serve as a professional networking opportunity for Futures students and SAP employees.
Chester County Futures is dedicated to increasing the four-year graduation rate of our current post-secondary students. The four-year graduation rate of Futures post-secondary students is currently 45%; while this is a major improvement over the national average for low-income, first-generation students (11%), it remains notably lower than the overall national average rate of 60%. This program will provide post-secondary students with resources necessary for the successful adjustment to the rigors of college life, maintaining academic success, and ensuring post-secondary graduation.
For the 2016-2017 school year, Chester County Futures will enroll 120 students in the Steps 4 Success program.
Back from left: Steve Brown (CCF), Maria McDonald (CCF), Melissa Rittenhouse (SAP), Mike Cieri (SAP)
Front from left: Marjorie Conner Dawkins (CCF), Kim Dickinson (CCF), Nina Kelley (SAP)
Monthly Meeting with Chatham Financial
Through our Futures AHEAD program, Futures middle school students from Kennett Square meet monthly with volunteers from Chatham Financial to keep students engaged between Enrichment Camps. The monthly meetings provide an informal, yet enriching environment for students to receive educational and professional advice while developing meaningful relationships through consistent interaction and encouragement.
In January, students and volunteers participated in The Newspaper Chair Challenge, a task requiring great feats of creative fearlessness, engineering ingenuity, and collaborative teamwork. Students were asked to apply teamwork and collaboration as they took to building their chairs out of mere newspaper, a roll of tape, 2 water bottles, and their thinking caps.
Teams were made up of, on average, 3 students and 2 Chatham volunteers who had 35 minutes to develop, build, and test their newspaper chairs. Not only was the chair required to hold up to 45 pounds (5 college textbooks), but it was required to include a unique feature that would make someone want to sit in their chair. Examples of these were – wifi hookup, speakers, mini-fridge, and cup holder. This was a continuation of the first monthly meeting where students and volunteers discussed Design Thinking and the need to design with the user in mind.
The objectives of the meeting were to introduce the concept of teamwork, appreciating all team-members and utilizing each member’s unique skills. Students were able to dust the surface of some engineering and physical science, while connecting our objective from last month, Design Thinking.