Educational Institutions

College Access Fairfax

  • Falls Church, VA
  • www.collegeaccessfairfax.org

Mission Statement

We ensure that students who are eligible to attend college, but at-risk of missing opportunities due to financial barriers, have access to the assistance they need to apply for financial aid. We help them complete their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and identify other grant opportunities. FAFSA is required for need-based government assistance and private financial aid and is the gateway for merit and athletic scholarships.

While we focus our efforts on students with limited English proficiency and/or financial needs, our services are available to all students in Fairfax County, Virginia.

Main Programs

  1. Program 1
  2. Parent and Student Seminars (Various Financial Aid topics)
  3. Middle School Financial Aid Workshops
  4. Financial Aid Champions
  5. FAFSA Completion Workshops
  6. Project Discovery
Service Areas

Self-reported

Virginia

We work with 12th graders and their parents in Fairfax County, Virginia, targeting those whose first language is not English and those who are unlikely to be able to afford to pay for college. FCPS (Fairfax County Public Schools) has a growing English as a Second Language (ESOL) enrollment, projected to be 17.1% of the student population in 2016, up from 16.9% in 2015. 28.2% are projected to be eligible for free and reduced-priced meals (a poverty measure), up from 27.9 in 2015.

ruling year

2005

Founder and Chairman since 2004

Self-reported

Mrs. Judith T. "Tessie" Wilson

Keywords

Self-reported

scholarships, college access, financial aid, post-secondary, FAFSA, grant

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EIN

03-0546470

 Number

2617559174

Contact

Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Scholarships, Student Financial Aid, Awards (B82)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Programs + Results

How does this organization make a difference?

Overview

Self-reported by organization

Exit surveys from our workshop participants are overwhelmingly positive and have resulted in our adding several additional and a few new workshops to accommodate needs and requests. Our FAFSA Completion workshops are consistently filled and completed FAFSAs result in thousands of dollars realized in Pell Grants. Fairfax County high school staff request our Financial Aid Champions and regularly compliment their good work with their students.

Programs

Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Program 1

College Access Fairfax has placed nine part-time Financial Aid Champions at ten FCPS high schools with high percentages of low income/Limited English Proficient students. While these Champions assist all students who walk through their doors, their mission is to "drill down" to those students most in need of financial assistance by providing one-on-one, small group, and large group presentations, advice and counseling. Their goal is to ensure that every students has completed the applications necessary for financial aid. CAF also offers a number of workshops and seminars, working in conjunction with other organizations (i.e. the Sallie Mae Fund, the Virginia Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, etc.). These seminars are led by the local Champion and staffed by volunteers who have received intensive training.

Category

Population(s) Served

Budget

Program 2

Parent and Student Seminars (Various Financial Aid topics)

Free seminars for high school juniors and seniors and their parents to help them complete the FAFSA and CSS, interpret their award letters, and understand scholarship options. Held in various locations in Fairfax County Public Schools in fall, winter and spring (see website for locations)

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Budget

$6,450

Program 3

Middle School Financial Aid Workshops

Planning for the expense of college starts well before students enter high school. These popular workshops for middle school parents address the spectrum of financial education - types of savings, return on investment, tips on reducing expenses, what college expenses will look like down the road, and how financial aid can help.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Ethnic/Racial Minorities -- General

Budget

$6,350

Program 4

Financial Aid Champions

Financial Aid Champions are on-site financial aid experts placed in high-risk Fairfax high schools. They provide one-on-one assistance to students and parents in completing the FAFSA, identifying financial and and scholarship opportunities, and interpreting financial aid award letters. 3 Champions split their time between 9 schools and also support the FAFSA Completion Workshops held in the evenings and on Saturdays.

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Budget

$23,970

Program 5

FAFSA Completion Workshops

Held January - April in Fairfax County high schools, these workshops focus on one-on-one help completing the FAFSA so students can apply for financial aid. Our Financial Aid Champions and other FAFSA experts work with students and parents on weeknights and Saturdays. Computers and secure internet access is provided, along with translators to accommodate various languages

Category

Education

Population(s) Served

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged, Indigent, General

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Budget

$7,750

Program 6

Project Discovery

Project Discovery is a post-secondary college access program offered, through 24 Partner Agencies throughout Virginia, in grades 4-12. It encourages students to stay in and graduate high school and provides resources and tools for their successful applications for post-secondary education.

College Access Fairfax (CAF) was selected as a grantee for this program because of its intensive work and success in helping at-risk students get financial assistance to attend college.

Our coordinator works with a target group of 69 students in grades 10 - 12, teaching them the basic skills needed for success in college and life including study skills, financial management, relationship building, and self-motivation. Young adults who have similar backgrounds and have graduated from high school and college despite obstacles and struggles, serve as role models and participate in the programs.

Students are identified and followed throughout their public school careers. This year we will work with students who have been enrolled in previous years as well as new 10th through 12th graders.

Category

Youth Development

Population(s) Served

Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Ethnic/Racial Minorities -- General

Budget

$32,650

Charting Impact

Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

  1. What is the organization aiming to accomplish?
    To ensure that Fairfax County students who are eligible to attend post-secondary institutions and have financial need and/or language barriers do not miss out on opportunities for assistance.

    Consistently higher FAFSA completion statistics in the at-risk schools where we focus our efforts.

    Parents of middle school students will be better prepared for the challenges of paying for college.

    More at-risk students realize funding and are able to receive post-secondary education.
  2. What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?
    Increased outreach to parents of at-risk high school seniors in a new effort funded this year by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. Our Financial Aid Outreach Champion (our senior Financial Aid Champion) will focus on identifying those students most in need and targeting, with letters and follow-up calls, their parents to encourage participation in FAFSA completion programs and workshops for parents. Letters will be sent in the language spoken at home, increasing the likelihood they will be read.

    Adding an additional workshop to help students interpret their Financial Aid Award letters. Many students and need help here, and in identifying additional ways to help fund educational costs.

    Champions will spend less time in their offices and more time identifying students most in need. With each Champion serving three schools, they will reach more students and increase participation in the the FAFSA Completion programs held in early spring.
  3. What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?
    With no change in budget, we will be able to meet our goals of increasing outreach this year thanks to the funding by Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.

    Word of mouth is our best promotion vehicle. High school staff, students and parents encourage others to come to us for help.

    We have never had an absence of need. We often have more requests than our Champions or FAFSA Completion Program volunteers can handle. We often need more translators (or translators speaking different languages) or more computers to be able to handle more FAFSAs with better efficiency.

    Next year, we would like to increase our number of Champions to four, covering more schools and reaching more students.

  4. How will they know if they are making progress?
    Measuring the numbers of FAFSAs completed.

    Estimating the total Pell Grant awards available to the students we help based on the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) they receive.

    Comparing our target schools' FAFSA Completion percentages (measured by the federal government) to the previous year.

  5. What have and haven't they accomplished so far?
    What we have accomplished:

    All FCPS high school students have 14 FAFSA Completion programs available to them during the early spring.

    More than 5,500 FAFSAs have been completed with our help. If their Pell Grants averaged $2,000 then $11,000,000 could have been realized.

    9 schools now have 1:1 help from a Financial Aid Champion.

    All Fairfax County Public School students and their parents have access to 26 workshops to help them plan for college, complete FAFSA and CSS.

    We have close partnerships with Fairfax County Public Schools and Pathway to the Baccalaureate.


    What We Haven't Accomplished

    We realized we were not reaching as many of the non English speaking parents as we needed to (based on exit surveys of participants). Our new outreach this year will make a difference in the outreach but we may need to do more.

    We have not been able to expand our programs as much as we would have liked due to funding constraints. Ideally, we would like to complete more than 2,000 FAFSAs per year with more than three Financial Aid Champions.

    There is still financial aid money that is not being used because it is not being requested. We want to see more Fairfax County students realizing their dream of a college education.
Service Areas

Self-reported

Virginia

We work with 12th graders and their parents in Fairfax County, Virginia, targeting those whose first language is not English and those who are unlikely to be able to afford to pay for college. FCPS (Fairfax County Public Schools) has a growing English as a Second Language (ESOL) enrollment, projected to be 17.1% of the student population in 2016, up from 16.9% in 2015. 28.2% are projected to be eligible for free and reduced-priced meals (a poverty measure), up from 27.9 in 2015.

External Reviews

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Financials

Financial information is an important part of gauging the short- and long-term health of the organization.

COLLEGE ACCESS FAIRFAX
Fiscal year: Jul 01-Jun 30

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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

College Access Fairfax

Leadership

NEED MORE INFO ON THIS NONPROFIT?

Free: Gain immediate access to the following:
  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2015, 2014 and 2013
  • Board Chair and Board Members
  • Access to the GuideStar Community
Need the ability to download nonprofit data and more advanced search options? Consider a Premium or Pro Search subscription.

Founder and Chairman

Mrs. Judith T. "Tessie" Wilson

BIO

The founder and current Chairman of College Access Fairfax, Mrs. Wilson served 12 years as the Braddock District member of the Fairfax County School Board, retiring in 2011. She is currently on the board of the Education Foundation for Fairfax County Public Schools in the role of Secretary/Treasurer. She oversees all of the (part-time) CAF paid staff.

Governance

BOARD CHAIR

Judith T. "Tessie" Wilson

BOARD LEADERSHIP PRACTICES

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BOARD ORIENTATION & EDUCATION

Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?


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CEO OVERSIGHT

Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?


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ETHICS & TRANSPARENCY

Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?


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BOARD COMPOSITION

Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?


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BOARD PERFORMANCE

Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?