Newswise — ESSEX, NY – Four Vermont schools have joined CFES Brilliant Pathways’ growing network of programs across the US and Ireland in support of students becoming college and career ready. 

Vergennes Union Middle/High School, Brighton Elementary (Island Pond), Miller’s Run Elementary (Sheffield) and North Country Union Junior High (Derby) signed on as CFES schools for the 2019-2020 school year. They join new schools from Texas, Hawaii, Florida and Pennsylvania and an overall network of 25,000 students in 150 schools from 30 states.

The addition of the Vermont schools supports a statewide initiative known as Advance Vermont focused on 70 percent of working-age residents attaining a postsecondary degree or credential of value. Launched in 2017 by Gov. Phil Scott, leaders in business, education, government, nonprofits and philanthropy, the initiative addresses a shortfall of qualified candidates to fill the high-growth, high wage jobs over the next decade that the McClure Foundation says will require education or training beyond high school.

“Every student with the desire and ability should have the opportunity to attend college and post-secondary training programs,” said US Senator Bernie Sanders I-Vt. “I am pleased to learn that more Vermont students will have access to counseling and programs to help them make post-high school decisions. By helping young Vermonters explore educational and career opportunities, organizations like CFES Brilliant Pathways play a critical role in equipping our younger generations with the knowledge and skills they need for productive and fulfilling lives and careers.” 

As the only national non-profit of its kind located in a rural community, CFES is uniquely positioned to help Vermont address its low college-going and postsecondary training rates.

Despite having one of the nation’s highest high school graduation rates, only 60 percent of Vermont’s seniors choose to attend college – a college-going rate that ranks last in New England and 42nd nationally.

“We are committed to supporting this initiative by working with these exceptional schools in Vermont where CFES was founded 28 years ago,” said CFES President Rick Dalton. “There is a projected shortfall of 132,000 job-ready workers across the state by 2025. The need is similar in other rural states where we work, but Vermonters are taking action by recognizing the problem and endorsing a solution through Advance Vermont.”

Relying on research-driven methods and best practices, CFES has sent 95 percent of its students to college or certified training programs. CFES gives students an opportunity to forge their own route to a bright future that places an emphasis on college and career readiness through a framework that allows schools to customize the implementation of three core practices – mentoring, essential skills (perseverance, agility, goal setting, networking, teamwork and leadership) and pathways to college & career.

“The CFES Brilliant Pathways model is a proven exemplar in encouraging college going and student success,” said Scott Thomas, Dean of the College of Education and Social Services at the University of Vermont and Advance Vermont Council member. “We welcome their commitment to Vermont schools and contributions to the objectives of Advance Vermont. All of us at UVM look forward to working with CFES Scholars and their mentors to establish solid pathways and through quality college experiences.”

Vergennes, Miller’s Run and Brighton are developing comprehensive plans to engage students in the core practices with support from CFES program directors who will work with staff and students in schools and at the upcoming CFES National Conferenceon Nov. 1-2 at the Sagamore Resort on Lake George.

“The teaching staff at Miller's Run School are excited to be joining this project as we work together to prepare our students for a great future,” said Miller’s Run Principal Patrick Ham.