"The biggest impact of being in Access Opportunity for me was the belief that others held in me. By having a large support system of professionals, I realized that even though I didn't see or understand my potential, others did. That is why I believe I was able to graduate college and get a job. It was because others invested their time in helping me reach my potential."
We have three core values that guide the work we do:
successfully reach a desired outcome by effort or skill. We embody this value by preparing students to become the best possible college applicants, students, and professionals.
energize the people around us towards a shared vision or sense of purpose. We embody this value by promoting students' engagement and advocacy within their various communities.
bring out the best in others through authentic relationships and collaboration. We embody this value by supporting students' social-emotional health and developing their social capital.
We know how easy it is for programs like ours to focus solely on achievement (grades, test scores, and other traditional markers of success), and while we do want students to excel in these areas, we also recognize the importance of purpose and relationships in their overall development.
We want them to learn from role models that represent their cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
We want them to be passionate about changing their communities.
Above all, we want them to find belonging, both in college and beyond.
These values underlie the programming itself and the metrics we use to evaluate our impact.
HOW WE MEASURE SUCCESS
The ultimate goal of Access Opportunity is to help our students, their families, and their communities reach their full potential. To help achieve that goal, we support students to assess themselves annually using two national standards that support college and career success.
CASEL Competencies (for 11th Grade - First-Year of College)
During students' first three years in the program (Access College), we focus on the principles developed by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). CASEL first introduced the term "social and emotional learning" back in 1994, and they have been a leader in the SEL movement ever since. The CASEL Framework is comprised of five interrelated areas of competence that help describe what SEL looks like in practice:
We use these competencies as the foundation to help reinforce the importance of social and emotional learning for staff and students alike.
NACE Competencies (for Second-Year of College - Fourth-Year)
During students' final three years in the program (Access Career), we utilize a model developed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). NACE was established in 1956 with the intention of building bridges and facilitating collaboration between college career services professionals and HR/recruiting professionals. One of the most important outcomes of this association is "a shared understanding of what is needed to launch and develop a successful career, a common vocabulary by which to discuss needs and expectations, and a basic set of competencies upon which a successful career is launched.' The following eight competencies were developed and are regularly revised by NACE members:
Career & Self-Development
Equity & Inclusion
Self Assessment Process
We measure these competencies through an annual self-assessment process that helps students track their progress and identify continued areas of improvement. These assessments are first introduced to students during SEL Day (for Access College) and LAUNCH (for Access Career). Self-assessments are used as a formal evaluation tool and also referenced throughout their time in the program. In addition to being a tool to guide students in being successful in their college and career readiness journey, the competencies serve as metrics in identifying program outcomes and performance.
WHAT THE NUMBERS SAY
Percentage of students that rated us a 4/5 or 5/5 in the following areas:
agreed that "AO has helped me get better at defining and achieving my goals"
agreed that "AO has prepared me to get help and solve problems on my own"
agreed that "Because of AO, I am more connected to people and resources that can support me"
Access Opportunity's student-first, community-centric program model trusts and honors students' inherent expertise about their needs and relies on student feedback to inform program changes and improvements.
Access Opportunity's vision is for a society -and a Colorado- that truly reflects its residents and communities, and for equity for all in education and in the workplace. Over the next several years, the organization's strategy and goals are focused on building a community-centric organization that is grounded in equity, fosters a sense of belonging and interdependence, and views people holistically.