CFES Brilliant Pathways Announces $1.5 Million College Readiness Program for 20 Schools in Northern New York, Vermont

ESSEX, N.Y., April 27, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — It’s well known that low-income urban students who want to attend college face significant…

ESSEX, N.Y., April 27, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — It’s well known that low-income urban students who want to attend college face significant hurdles. But rural students go to college and remain there at even lower rates than their urban counterparts. 

A new initiative, the North Country Brilliant Pathways Program, aims to address this underrecognized gap for students at 20 elementary, middle and high schools in rural Vermont and northeastern New York by providing them with a multi-faceted, comprehensive college readiness program.  

The new program was announced at an April 22 press conference at the Essex, N.Y. headquarters of CFES Brilliant Pathways, the college readiness non-profit that developed the program.

«Economic, cultural and demographic issues are combining to rob young people in rural communities of the future they deserve,» said Rick Dalton, president of CFES Brilliant Pathways. «This new initiative is designed to level the playing field for a group of schools in New York and Vermont and serve as a model that could be adopted by schools nationwide,» he said. 

The program, with an estimated total value of $1.5 million,  is free of cost, but each school needs to apply to be included. The application and program details can be found on the CFES website

«This isn’t about having just another program,» said former New York governor George Pataki, a CFES board member. «It’s about changing lives and showing the pathway to opportunity and how a better career and education can be achieved in every community in every town and every village throughout the North Country.»

The new program will offer a variety of components to the 20 participating schools. They include the following (see Program Profile for more details):

  • A dedicated professional program director for each school who will make in-person and virtual visits throughout the year
  • Myriad professional development and enrichment opportunities for educators, students and families, such as monthly college- and career-readiness advisor trainings certified by the University of Vermont.
  • A variety of digital resources, including partnerships and networking opportunities with 200 colleges/universities and 230 businesses and corporations.
  • Opportunities for networking, collaboration, and recognition, including becoming a nationally recognized School of Distinction.
  • A partnership with an urban school to promote cultural exchange and connection and prepare students to navigate a diverse world.

The program is a distillation of strategies CFES has developed over its history. These strategies are laid out in detail in a new book written by Dalton, Rural Pathways to College and Career (Routledge, April 2021). «We believe that the book can help rural schools transform themselves and lift up their communities, and that’s why we decided to launch North Country Brilliant Pathways,» said Dalton.

While rural students attend college at only slightly lower rates than urban students (59% vs 61%), retention rates are much lower. Just 29% of rural Americans aged 18-24 are enrolled in colleges and universities, compared to 42% of all Americans in that age range.  The pandemic has worsened the problem. FAFSA completions, a sign of intent to go to college, dropped 10% nationally this year and 15% in rural areas. 

Fully two-thirds of all jobs and 80 percent of all jobs that pay a median of $65,000 or more require postsecondary education, according to research by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

Media Contact: Jon Reidel, (802) 578-0447,

Cision View original content to download multimedia:

SOURCE CFES Brilliant Pathways