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Region One ESC Joins National Initiative to Prepare Rural Students for Success After Graduation Through Dedicated Advisors

Region One Education Service Center (Region One) has placed dedicated career advisors in four local high schools – Edcouch-Elsa High School, Grulla High School, Monte Alto Early College High School, and Port Isabel High School – thanks to funding in partnership with the rootEd Alliance.

rootEd Alliance, is a public-private initiative designed to boost career outcomes for students in rural communities by placing dedicated advisors in rural high schools to provide students with career planning support. Advisors work with every senior to define and plan their futures, whether they are seeking a college degree, work-based learning, or military service. In Texas, rootEd partners with five Texas-based regional organizations including Region One.

With the addition of these schools, rootEd is now serving 56 schools across Texas.

“Every student deserves access to dedicated career advisors as they make the transition from high school to the rest of their lives,” said Region One ESC Executive Administrator for College, Career & Life Readiness Melissa I. Lopez. “rootEd Alliance’s advising model has led to great success for rural students, and we’re excited to bring it to our Region.”

rootEd advisors work alongside school counselors, adding capacity and resources, to ensure all students explore careers, develop a plan for after graduation, and complete the steps necessary to achieve their goals. Advisors’ work may include helping students explore career paths, identify schools or training programs, complete financial aid forms and applications, visit colleges and career fairs, coordinate job shadowing and other career exposure opportunities, and even secure housing and transportation.

Meeting the need

Nationwide, an increasing number of jobs require some level of training or education beyond high school. In Texas specifically, 70% of the state’s jobs will require a postsecondary credential by 2036, but only 22% of Texas students are earning any type of degree or certification within six years of their high school graduation. Rural students face unique barriers to accessing opportunities after high school that lead to high-wage careers, yet rural communities often lack the resources to help students overcome them.

  • The poverty rate in counties where rootEd Alliance operates is nearly twice as high as the national average.
  • These same rural communities also have fewer college-educated adults than their peers in urban areas, and rural students are more likely to be among the first generation in their families to attend college.

A track record of success

rootEd’s model has shown demonstrable success for students in planning and driving towards their plans following graduation:

  • In 2022, rootEd Texas schools saw a 22% increase in postsecondary enrollment rates from pre-rootEd years, compared to a 0% change nationally over the same time period.
  • The same year, 85% of rootEd Texas students completed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), compared to a statewide average of 63%. FAFSA allows students to unlock key financial resources for post-high school education and training.
  • 84% of rootEd Texas students completed a career plan with their rootEd advisor.
  • Seven in 10 students reported their rootEd advisor was the most helpful person in their life as they navigated the college or trade school application process.

“At rootEd, we know that when students graduate high school on a path to achieve career success and economic stability, it’s not just the students and their families who benefit, it’s entire communities,” said rootEd Alliance President Noa Meyer. “We look forward to working with students and communities in the Rio Grande Valley, and our excellent partners at Region One.”

“We thank rootEd Alliance for supporting our goals and objectives,” said Region One Executive Director Dr. Daniel P. King. “This work is proven practice to successfully educate, transition, and graduate our youth. We appreciate the support.”