ARLINGTON, Va., July 17, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- On Tuesday, July 23rd at Howard University, the Reach Higher Initiative, launched by former First Lady Michelle Obama during her time at the White House and now housed at Common App, will continue the summer tradition of hosting an annual Beating the Odds Summit to support first-generation college-bound students.
Beating the Odds was first celebrated in 2014 at the Obama White House with a small group of students from across the country in a roundtable with Mrs. Obama. She celebrated their commitment to education despite overcoming immense obstacles along their journey to higher education.
During the summer of 2015 and 2016, Mrs. Obama expanded the small gathering to include over 100 college-bound students representing urban, rural, foster, homeless, special needs, and underrepresented youth who had overcome incredible obstacles to persist through high school and commit to attending a post-secondary institution. Reach Higher has previously partnered with Spotify and Twitter to host recent Beating the Odds events.
In today's global knowledge-based economy, it's imperative that young people continue their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, a four-year college or university, or in the military. Up to forty percent of low-income students who graduate from high school with a plan for postsecondary education fail to show up on campus to start their classes, due to a phenomenon known as Summer Melt. This convening is meant to help give students the additional guidance, encouragement, and social-emotional support they need so they continue to beat the odds and get a degree.
This year's event will take place in Washington, DC at Howard University. More than 50 first-generation college students selected by local non-profits will participate in a day-long workshop focused on strategies to succeed while pursuing higher education and build a foundation for a meaningful career starting freshman year. Mrs. Obama will be joined by Wes Moore, Robin Hood Foundation; Malcolm Jenkins, Philadelphia Eagles, as well as leaders from the Opportunity Network, and YouTube.
For the first time, Reach Higher is encouraging universities, schools, and organizations to plan a Beating the Odds Summit as a way to support students who have overcome obstacles to go to college.
"Mrs. Obama, as a first-generation student herself, knows what it feels like to head off to college without the same support system as others," says Eric Waldo, executive director of Reach Higher and Chief Access and Equity Officer at Common App. "Pursuing post-secondary education opens doors for students and helps them reach their full potential. We're thrilled to celebrate the 5th anniversary of Reach Higher and Beating the Odds and ensure more first-generation and underrepresented students enter college with the information and tools they need to succeed in class and in their career."
Students around the country can watch Mrs. Obama's panel live on YouTube. A link to the livestream is forthcoming.
The first portion of Mrs. Obama's panel will be open to the press. Media space is limited. Members of the media interested in applying for credentials must email [email protected] by Thursday, July 18 at 5:00pm ET.
About the Reach Higher Initiative
Reach Higher, started by former First Lady Michelle Obama during her time at the White House, works to inspire every student in the U.S. to take charge of their future by completing their education past high school, whether at a professional training program, a community college, a four-year college or university, or in the military. Reach Higher continues to help underrepresented students navigate the college-going process by raising awareness about helpful tools and resources; meeting students where they are and tailoring technical assistance to meet their unique needs, and building the capacity of the school counseling profession. The Reach Higher Initiative now lives at The Common Application, a non-profit membership organization dedicated to access, equity, and integrity in the college admission process. For additional information about Reach Higher and the Common App, visit reachhigher.org and commonapp.org.
About Opportunity Network
The Opportunity Network (OppNet) ignites the drive, curiosity, and agency of students from historically and systematically underrepresented communities by connecting them to college access and success, internships, career opportunities, and personal and professional networks. 92 percent of OppNet students graduate from college and 89 percent secure meaningful employment or graduate school admission within six months of graduation, far exceeding national trends. OppNet accomplishes this through its founding OppNet Fellows program, an intensive six-year experience for students beginning the summer after 10th grade anchored in our Career Fluency® curriculum articulating the skills and mindsets for college and career success. Additionally, OppNet drives national impact through its Career Fluency® Partnerships program, an immersive capacity-building program for schools and youth-serving organizations looking to accelerate college and career readiness for their young people. For more information, visit opportunitynetwork.org.
SOURCE Reach Higher