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LEAP, Florida College Access Network partner to ease “Summer Melt” for local grads

Originally published June 18, 2021.

It’s June! For LEAP, that means focusing our attention on making sure new college students don’t fall behind ( “melt” )on their college plans during the long, lazy days of summertime. While we focus on this every summer, this year things are different in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our partners at our local Tampa Bay area colleges are providing incentives for students in the class of 2021 and even 2020, to maintain the plans that might have been knocked off path by the COVID-19 Pandemic. These incentives are made possible thanks to a generous $45,000 grant to LEAP from the Florida College Access Network (FCAN), Helios Education Foundation and the Florida College System. LEAP also recently received $100,000 from the National College Access Network for additional help to students.

According to a recent TIME magazine article, between 7.7 million to 10 million adults canceled plans to take postsecondary classes last fall because of financial constraints related to the pandemic.  On the same token, the number of high school graduates who immediately went on to college in fall 2020 declined 6.8% compared with the previous year, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The drop was more stark at high-poverty high schools, where the number of graduates enrolling in college fell 11.4%, compared with a drop of 2.9% at low-poverty high schools, per the article.

Because of the research and the staggering numbers, organizations like National College Attainment Network, the Florida College Access Network and LEAP are laser focused on getting kids to postsecondary school who were deterred from going in 2020 because of COVID and those who might still be apprehensive today.

Why so much emphasis on moving on to getting a postsecondary degree? A college degree is valuable. Period. According to the National College Attainment Network (NCAN) by 2020, 65% of U.S. jobs will require some form of postsecondary education, but only 47.6% of U.S. working-age adults held a postsecondary credential as of 2017. Postsecondary education is also increasingly the only route to upward mobility. The lowest-income Americans who obtain a college degree are five times more likely than their peers to escape poverty.

LEAP has a number of resources to help fight off the summer melt. All can be found on our website. Links provided:

The work of LEAP is so highly regarded in this field, the City of Tampa recently tapped LEAP to join the new Resilient Tampa program. The Resilient Tampa roadmap is a collection of nearly 60 resilience initiatives designed to help Tampa celebrate its strengths and address the challenges it faces. One challenge is “Opportunity for All” and this is where LEAP will assist in promoting postsecondary education.

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