October 4th, 2011


Here’s a guest post from Blueprints founder Nicole Bohannon:

Earlier this month, Kristina, Hannah, and I had the opportunity to attend the National College Access Network’s (NCAN) annual conference in St. Louis to share experiences from Blueprints College Access Initiative and learn from other college access providers around the nation.

From breakout sessions sharing best practices for assessment and sustainability to inspiring plenary sessions and networking opportunities, the conference provided for an incredible time of learning and growth that will undoubtedly prove valuable as we work to deepen the relationships with our Blueprints partners and their communities.

During the conference, we also had the privilege of presenting Blueprints at NCAN’s Best Practices Gallery, which focused on best practices in helping diverse student groups access and success in college. We were thrilled to share information about what Blueprints is doing in Alabama with over 600 conference attendees.

One of the most important things we learned was the power of state and local college access networks.  These networks work to get more 21st century students into and through college, and by leveraging theircollective impact they are able to create large-scale social change for student success. Alabama does not currently have a college access network, and that is something we aim to change over the next year.

The NCAN conference was a wonderful learning opportunity, but even more so, a motivator to see the ground we must make up in college attainment in the state of Alabama. Increasing college access is vital to fighting poverty in Alabama, and we couldn’t do it without your help.

Want to learn more about best practices to increase college access?  Some of the conference sessions are posted in the virtual conference section here, and many of the presentation handouts are available here.

Want to get involved with Blueprints? Here’s how:

  • Organize college visits with local high school students: email Hannah Selles to get started.
  • Become a mentor: connect with Blueprints programs currently underway in Tuscaloosa (at the University of Alabama), Marion (through Judson College), Montevallo (at the University of Montevallo) and Birmingham (with UAB).
  • Help cover the costs of materials and staffing with your financial gift.