Newswise — Osiris Dominguez has dedicated her life to helping her four children succeed. She reads the latest information on college and career readiness and how best to support her children’s postsecondary dreams. But she worries about other parents in her small community along the Rio Grande who struggle to find information to help their sons and daughters become the first in their families to attend college. 

Last week, the special education aid at San Elizario high in El Paso County, took a virtual College and Career Readiness Advisor Training that she says provided critical information for parents in a new and digestible way. Offered by CFES Brilliant Pathways, a non-profit that has helped over 100,000 students attain college degrees, the training is part of a nationwide effort by CFES to address a 30 percent decrease in college enrollment among students from low-income families. 

“The training was very helpful informing parents how to help their children after high school, which is very needed in San Elizario,” said Dominguez. “Many of our parents do not speak English, so having it in both English and Spanish was very helpful. The training helps children discover their aptitudes and potential careers, while also showing me as a parent how to implement plans with my daughter to meet her goals.”

Parents in this border town are not alone in their struggle to keep their children’s college and career dreams alive. There has been a 16 percent decrease in federal financial aid applications by rural students and a 14 percent drop among urban ones. Twenty-six percent fewer Black and Latino high school graduates went straight to college in 2020, compared to the previous year, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. 

To address the crisis, CFES announced a goal to train 5,000 College and Career Readiness Advisors over the next 24 months. Advisors can be teachers, coaches, bus drivers, staff, parents and others interested in helping young people achieve their dreams. As part of this outreach, CFES is partnering with local cable stations to show training on TV and on other media outlets. 

The parent-focused training supports research showing the critical importance of parental engagement in their children’s education. A University of Vermont study found that parents had the biggest influence on postsecondary decisions, and that those who lacked information were far more likely to steer their child away from higher education, while those who gained knowledge, like the CCR training, were more likely to encourage a college going pathway.

The parent-centered training is built around critical need areas. These include how to pay for college, career readiness, college pathways, and essential skills, and the tools and strategies to advise children as they advance on their college and career pathway. Graduates receive a certificate from the University of Vermont, ongoing support through webinars and digital resources, and the option to be paired with a student in need of CCR support.

CFES offers the CCR trainings monthly. The February session will focus on training college students to support their younger peers in middle and high school. In March, CFES will train corporate volunteers with the skills to support students in their own communities and beyond, while building the workforce of tomorrow. 

“The recent COVID-19 crisis and Black Lives Matter Movement has forced companies to rethink their role in society and how they can empower young people across the country through mentorship and education,” said CFES President and CEO Rick Dalton. “We offer the training and skills needed to achieve this critical goal.”