Goddard RiversideÕs Options Center Announces Commitment to Expand College Access at White House Event

Today, Goddard Riverside Community Center’s Executive Director Stephan Russo will join President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college. 

The White House College Opportunity Day of Action helps to support the President’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.  

Goddard Riverside’s Options Center (Options), the organization’s college access and success program, provides free, high-quality college access and success services, tailored for youth who are underrepresented in higher education. The Options Institute provides professional development on college access and success counseling to school personnel, youth workers, volunteers, and peer leaders.  Since 1985, Options has helped more than 7,000 New York City students enroll in college and has trained over 3,500 local counselors.

In response to the encouragement from the White House and US Department of Education, Options commits to reaching an additional 1,000 school counselors and college advisors in 10 additional communities over the next three years. Specifically, Options will collaborate with five communities in New York State and five communities nationally to provide training and build local training capacity. Options will be piloting these efforts in Chicago and Puerto Rico starting in late 2014 and early 2015 respectively. Furthermore, Options commits to developing online training content based on its current curriculum which can be offered nationally.

“I’m so honored to join the President and First Lady for this conversation, and more importantly, to create a collective plan of action with other community leaders. Our Options program has led the charge in New York City to help students obtain quality education for 30 years. Now more than ever, we realize the need to expand our efforts to professionalize the field of college access work and equip professionals with the knowledge they need to best serve their students and their communities,” said Stephan Russo, Goddard Riverside’s Executive Director.

The President will announce new steps on how his Administration is helping to support these actions, including announcing $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve low-income students’ access to college.  Today’s event is the second College Opportunity Day of Action, and will include a progress report on the commitments made at the first day of action on January 14, 2014.