CATEGORY: Advocacy, Families, Partnerships, Students

Melissa Jan 30, 2024

In the bustling city of Providence, Rhode Island, a beacon of opportunity shines brightly for Achievement First students and many others - Providence Promise. It’s an organization dedicated to transforming how hundreds of local families plan, prepare for, and save for college. AF supports our communities and provides equitable, free education opportunities and college and career support for our scholars through graduation. AF families in Rhode Island benefit from our partnership with PVD by accessing free guidance, financial incentives, and early preparation opportunities for their child’s future. Together, we are committed to supporting and uplifting the dreams of young minds, breaking down barriers to higher education, and fostering a community where everyone can dream big, regardless of financial constraints. In this partnership spotlight, we explore the advocacy work PVD Promise is doing in partnership with Achievement First to ensure our families have access to excellent academic and career opportunities post-graduation. The collaboration exemplifies our shared values and advocacy for equitable opportunities. Through advocacy work in all three regions where our schools are located and through strategic partnerships like this one, AF is actively working toward making quality education accessible for students in underserved communities and closing the education gap. In this piece, you will meet some amazing Achievement First and PVD Promise community members directly involved in this work and hear how the program has changed their lives. A Pledge for Progress Juan Rosales, PVD Promise's Bilingual Enrollment Coordinator, was always involved in his community and looking for opportunities to help families. He has been with the organization for three years, and his favorite part of his job is connecting with parents. "We take parents through a complicated enrollment process to obtain a college savings account. The enrollment process is essential because traditional CSA programs can be inaccessible to most people. Sometimes, it's hard for families to understand the application process, especially if English is not their first language. Also, families might otherwise wait, thinking they have more time [to save for college]. This is the case with many families in the community," Juan explains. Lilian Vargas, a PVD Promise parent and Achievement First mother, shares, "It's been nice to have the support. They have advised me and helped me better understand the United States educational system since I was not born here. They have helped us visit colleges and provided workshops and advice. There are many incentives to keep active and earn money for the savings account." Lilian and Elianny at a Family Engagement workshop in December Achievement First and Providence Promise Achievement First's Rhode Island Senior Director of External Relations Jillian Fain initiated the relationship between PVD Promise and AF's Rhode Island schools when she realized that students in Providence weren't participating in the State’s 529 College Savings plan as much because they either didn't know about it or thought they couldn't afford it. She wanted to make sure Providence families knew about this and that there was a team to support them in leveraging this resource. Jill connected PVD Promise's Executive Director, Madalyn Ciampi, to AF's principals and helped them get into the schools and connect with parents. Lilian Vargas' oldest child, Joshua, attended  Achievement First schools from Kindergarten to eighth grade. Her youngest, Elianny, is in kindergarten at AF Providence Mayoral Academy Elementary School and is taking advantage of the Early Scholarship Program. Lilian heard about PVD Promise two years ago from a friend, noting, "I talked to Juan to learn more about the program, and now I love it.”  Lilian appreciates PVD Promise and what they do so much that she became involved as a Family Champion, sharing her wealth of knowledge with other parents. She walks into the schools and talks to the parents, similar to how she learned about the program herself. "I tell parents - your child can earn money for college. They will help you set up the account. It is free, and you can start depositing whenever you want. You earn up to $250 a month!"  Elianny with big brother Joshua this fall Community Impact PVD Promise goes beyond individual success stories; it fosters community and collective growth, further aligning with AF’s overall mission since 1998 and working in the Providence area since 2013. By investing in the education of local youth, the initiative contributes to the overall development of the Providence community. Likewise, AF is proud to offer free, quality education opportunities for Providence families and to remain active in the community, engaging in local programs to support families,  expanding our presence in beautiful new buildings, and creating a learning environment that the community can be excited about.  PVD Promise also partners with community organizations, including the Providence Public Library and College Visions, among many others. Bright Futures Achievement First is honored to partner with PVD Promise. Workshops on financial literacy and college readiness further equip students and parents alike, and promoting positive student outcomes aligns with AF’s mission, creating a synergy that propels students toward self-improvement and purposeful leadership.  Our partnership with PVD Promise is a testament to AF’s belief that education is a powerful tool for transformation. It paves the way for a future where every student can aspire to achieve their dreams by breaking down financial barriers, providing mentorship, and fostering community connections. As Lilian said, "We are all there for the same purposes: getting the best for our kids and helping them succeed." To contribute or learn more, visit the PVD Promise website. Learn more about AF’s Rhode Island schools here

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