FUEL offers a comprehensive package of tools and incentives that opens the door to college for underserved students. The heart of our program is a multi-year curriculum of monthly educational workshops (Savings Circles) that explain college access to families who have never sent anyone to higher education. We offer both day and evening sessions to accommodate participantsâ work schedules, and the classes are in multiple languages. In these sessions, they learn about every aspect of college entry, including standardized testing, financial planning and scholarships, the college application process, the differences between community and private and between two-year and four-year institutions, and much more. There is a particular emphasis on financial education, i.e., loans, scholarships, and financial planning. As part of the curriculum, parents open an educational savings account and are expected to contribute to it regularly. For many participants, this is the first bank account they have ever had. We draw families into participating by offering savings bonuses and other incentives such as hot meals, give-aways, and scholarship raffles. We have learned that when families put skin in the game in terms of saving and learning, it proves to be transformative in their mindset about going to college.
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FUEL believes that higher education is attainable for all, regardless of income, and that family engagement is crucial to studentsâ educational achievement. Working with community partners, FUEL provides knowledge, resources, connections, and financial incentives that empower parents to propel their children into higher education.
Underlying our mission is the proven reality that students who are supported by their parents – not just financially, but in decision making, research, and enthusiasm – are more successful in high school and more likely to enter and complete college than their peers whose families are not engaged. There are numerous tutoring, mentoring, and after-school programs that give students a leg up on the college access process, but they are missing the crucial element of parental involvement. FUEL Education puts an extraordinarily powerful tool into students’ hands by incorporating parents into the equation, teaching them what they need to know so they can guide their children into higher education. By educating the parents, we achieve the ultimate goal of getting more low-income students into college.