Henderson State Awarded $771K from AT&T

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LITTLE ROCK, AR (News release) – AT&T announced today that its Aspire program has awarded $771,000 to Henderson State University to expand the Southwest Arkansas College Preparatory Academy. The organization received the funds at an event today attended by Governor Mike Beebe.

The Southwest Arkansas College Preparatory Academy (SWACPA) is a university-public school collaboration program developed to reduce remediation rates and increase college attendance and graduation rates. SWACPA will use AT&T Aspire funding to expand the program to more students and hire additional educators to maintain small class sizes that permit individualized instruction.

As a student at Arkadelphia High School in 2009, Charles Holland had high hopes for his future but wasn’t exactly sure how he was going to get there. Then came the opportunity to participate in the Southwest Arkansas College Preparatory Academy.

“When I received a letter signed by the presidents of Henderson and Ouachita inviting me to participate in the College Prep Academy, I felt honored. To have an opportunity to actually take classes on a university campus was exciting,” said Holland.

It takes caring professionals and a relentless focus on results to keep students in high school on the path to graduation. Because of its demonstrated success supporting and motivating traditionally underserved students to stay in school and prepare for their next step in life, Henderson State University has been named as one of 30 recipients nationwide that will share in nearly $12.5 million from AT&T.

These contributions are a part of AT&T Aspire, the company’s signature education initiative focused on school success and career readiness. With an unwavering commitment to data-driven education outcomes, AT&T Aspire has impacted more than 1 million students since its launch in 2008.

“At AT&T we are making preparation of the next generation of workers a priority. We are excited that Henderson State University’s Southwest Arkansas College Preparatory Academy was selected to receive this competitive award,” said Ed Drilling, President AT&T Arkansas. “With this award, the Academy will be able to help more students develop the skills necessary to graduate from high school ready for college or to pursue a career.”

Through a competitive request for proposal process, 30 schools, school districts and non-profits, including Southwest Arkansas Preparatory Academy were selected from more than 1,100 nationwide. Programs were evaluated based on their effectiveness in helping students graduate ready for career or college. Selected programs use evidence-based approaches to serve students and are able to demonstrate quantitative results.

“The Henderson State University Southwest Arkansas College Preparatory Academy is thrilled to have AT&T partner with us in our continuing quest to build an even brighter future for the students of southwest Arkansas,” said Dr. Glen Jones, president of Henderson State University. “We believe that every student has the potential to be extraordinary and the generous support from AT&T will allow us to serve even more students as we expand the program into other Arkansas high schools. Under the direction of Paulette Blacknall, this program has a remarkable track record of increasing college-going rates and retention while decreasing remediation rates. We are looking forward to many years of continued success with AT&T as we work alongside our existing educational, community, corporate partners to build the next generation of leaders for our state and country.”

AT&T Aspire funding recipients include non-profits, schools and school districts around the country that will expand programs to serve additional students, to add components to strengthen the program, or to replicate in new locations. Many of the awardees deliver integrated student supports, focus on college or career preparation, and/or provide mentoring or peer-to-peer supports to help students succeed in academics and beyond.

Founded in 2009, the Southwest Arkansas College Prep Academy was created as an academic intervention for high school students at-risk of dropping out, and to address graduates with insufficient college and career preparedness. SWACPA provides targeted intervention and enhanced educational opportunities to use knowledge and critical thinking to prepare students to embrace the responsibilities of college, careers and active citizenship as life-long learners.

SWACPA students attend classes at Henderson State University and Ouachita Baptist University or one of three community colleges: the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope, National Park Community College at Hot Springs, and College of the Ouachitas at Malvern. SWACPA currently serves 16 school districts in six counties in Southwest Arkansas.

Students participate in four years of intensive academic instruction and academic skills training led by teams of high school teachers and college professors in classes of 10 to 12 students. Students are exposed to college life through on-campus classes and on-campus social experiences.

“The Academy gave me the skills and motivation to do better in school so I could not only graduate, but graduate high school prepared and ready to succeed in college. I’m now in my second full year of college. I deferred one year in order to complete my military obligations. Southwest Arkansas College Prep Academy helped me get to go to college without remediation and worked with me to fulfill my military requirements,” said Army Specialist Holland.

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