Hollister High School today hosted “Decision Day,” an event at which about 120 graduating high school seniors publicly announced their plans to enroll in college, seek career training, or enlist in the military following graduation. Missouri Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe and Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven were among the leaders who attended the event, along with families, educators, and community members, to celebrate students’ achievements and to emphasize the importance of ensuring every student graduates with a strong plan for success.
“By 2028, an estimated 65 percent of jobs in Missouri will require some level of training or education beyond high school. Today only 47 percent of the state’s working age population has any postsecondary credential,” said Missouri Gov. Mike Parson. “We’re on a mission to narrow that gap, and today’s event affirmed we’re making progress. We wish these graduates, and all graduates statewide, the best as they enter this exciting new chapter of their lives.”
Lt. Gov. Kehoe agreed, “Every high school senior should graduate with a clear path forward–and they deserve our support along the way. In doing so, we are not just supporting the individuals; we are benefitting families, communities, and the entire state.”
Decision Day is part of a larger effort by the school and by the state to improve postsecondary outcomes for high school students, particularly those in rural communities. The effort, called rootEd Missouri, is a partnership between national organization rootEd Alliance and Ozarks Technical Community College that hires, trains, and places dedicated college and career advisors in select schools. rootEd advisors work alongside school counselors to ensure every student has a strong plan to guide them after graduation and resources, like financial assistance, to realize that plan.
“Research confirms what we’ve long observed to be true: Compared to their peers, rural students face unique barriers to accessing and achieving education and training opportunities after high school,” said Hollister R-V School District Superintendent Brian Wilson. “It’s our job to remove those barriers, clearing a path to prosperity for every graduate, no matter their next step. We firmly believe all students can succeed, and we congratulate Hollister’s Class of 2022 for setting an example of what can be achieved by every student–in our community and across the state.”
Hollister High School is among the first schools to participate in rootEd Missouri, which launched in 2019.
In that time, as the nation has seen a significant decrease in the number of high school students enrolling in college after graduation, schools participating in rootEd Missouri have seen an increase. Last year at Hollister High School, for example, the number of students who enrolled in college following graduation increased by 10 percent.
“The national decline in college enrollment has been especially acute for community colleges, where many rural students enroll,” said OTC Chancellor Hal Higdon. “Not only is Missouri defying that trend; we’re helping to reverse it. The rootEd Missouri advising model has proven it’s not just achievable; it’s scalable.”
In fall 2021, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education committed to building on rootEd Missouri’s foundation of success by expanding the program. Under a grant program known as the Missouri Postsecondary Advising Initiative, rootEd Missouri will place advisors in at least 135 schools over three years.
“Hollister High School has seen first-hand the value and impact of rootEd Missouri’s work on students and families,” Vandeven said. “We’re thrilled to be able to use federal relief dollars to make that partnership available to other rural Missouri schools, where school counselors’ plates were already full and have become even more so as our students continue to face challenges brought on by the pandemic.”
Vandeven continued, “Helping our students develop a personalized postsecondary plan really is the final piece of this puzzle—the parting gift that we in K-12 education can give our students and families. We’ve equipped students with a high-quality education to be prepared for this next part of our journey—and with the help of partners like rootEd Missouri, we can be certain students have the map to get to their next destination, and beyond.”
“As a Missouri native and son of a Hollister High School graduate, I am thrilled to celebrate the Class of 2022 here today as they embark on their next chapter,” said Byron Trott, Founder, Chairman and CEO of BDT & Company and Chairman of rootEd Alliance, who announced $100,000 of scholarships for five graduating seniors at the event. “This graduating class is a testament to what can be achieved when students are equipped with the support they need to pursue postsecondary opportunities beyond high school. I am excited for their continued journey—and encourage each of them to work hard, dream big and find something they love to do.”
About rootEd Alliance
rootEd Alliance, Inc. is a collaborative effort founded by family business owners and philanthropists who recognize that all students need more than a high school diploma to succeed in today’s economy. Rural students face unique barriers to pursuing a postsecondary pathway, and rootEd aims to remove these barriers and expand opportunity by investing philanthropic capital in a transformative advising model and partnering with states to bring it to scale. The rootEd model trains and places dedicated advisors in rural high schools. This ensures students have the resources they need to chart a path beyond high school—to the military or technical school, community college or a bachelor’s degree. The rootEd model has a proven track record of success across rural communities in Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, and Idaho. rootEd Alliance was born out of BDT & Company’s commitment to convening and catalyzing philanthropists around big ideas that are under-resourced and overlooked, with great potential for impact. For more information, please visit: https://rootEdAlliance.org/.