Congratulations to all of our 2016 College Visions College Graduates

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"I feel relieved, accomplished, and proud. My graduate peers in the room can attest to that. We have all grown through different paths. We have been chasing the sun, and I can say that we are a huge step closer. You see, the road was bumpy and sometimes narrow, but we kept on going."

“I would not have been able to accomplish my project addressing ethnic conflict in Guinea and my undergraduate career without the help and support I received from the College Visions College Success Program and Brandeis University. They are both infinitely part of my life because I would not be who I am today and who I will be for the rest of my life without them. Once you join College Vision you become College Visions for the rest of your life”

Ibrahima Diaboula, Brandeis University Class of 2016

On May 24th, College Visions celebrated the college graduations of Ibrahima and 32 other first-generation college graduates who have completed the College Visions College Success Program and earned college degrees! These graduates are now among the cumulative 225 College Visions college graduates. Congratulations to the Class of 2016, we are so proud of you!

We also celebrated the 80 students in our 2016 College Access Program. All of these hardworking young people have now joined the College Success Program and are headed to college-including Ibrahima's younger sister Fatoumata who is also headed to Brandeis University.

We celebrate with thanks to our students and their families who took the big and sometimes scary step to college. And big thanks to all of our supporters-friends, donors, and volunteers. With you, we will celebrate many more graduations!

2016 celebration group

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5th Annual College Access Award: College Advising Corps at Brown University


College Visions is proud to honor the Brown University College Advising Corps (CAC) with the 5th annual College Access Award. The CAC increases the number of low-income, first-generation students who enter and complete higher education by placing 14 full-time Americorps College Advisers in urban public high schools across Rhode Island. Advisers provide college application and financial aid guidance to over 2,000 students and their families each year, while fostering a culture of college attendance and higher education in Rhode Island’s urban communities.

The College Access Award is given to organizations and people who are increasing opportunity for low-income, first-generation students to earn a college degree. Past winners include Kolajo Paul Afolabi, the University of Rhode Island’s Talent Development Program, the Learning For Life initiative at Rhode Island College, and the Tam Tran Scholarship Fund.

As the CAC approaches its 10th anniversary, there is no better time to highlight its important work. College Visions grants this award to celebrate the CAC’s accomplishments, including: guiding more than 10,000 disadvantaged students toward a college degree in the past decade; providing a launching pad for Advisers to continue into careers as educational leaders; and nearly a decade as a valued partner of College Visions. Thanks to the CAC, thousands of low-income, first-generation students have enrolled in college and Adviser alumni represent a new generation of educators poised to lead in RI and beyond.

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Are you enjoying the spring weather? For College Visions college students, spring means final exams, and final exams mean care packages. Ben can tell you how much care packages mean to our students:

“Care packages should be called LOVE packages! Each time College Visions comes to campus with them, it feels like I have people who love me and care about my success. In today’s world, that is not an easy thing to find. College Visions is truly making dreams and miracles happen, one student at a time and one LOVE package at a time.”

Ben, URI Class of 2017

This spring, we got some extra support from Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, which sponsored College Visions care packages, and provided an awesome, enthusiastic team of volunteers to pack them. Big thanks to our friends at BCBSRI, with your help a little care package helps students take another big step towards a college degree!


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Joseph and Brownsyne Tucker Edmonds are longtime College Visions supporters. They help College Visions students as generous donors, as well as organizers of an online fundraiser. Joseph also kindly agreed to share with you some of his thoughts about why he and Brownsyne support educational opportunity and College Visions:

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

“My wife and I met the first day of orientation at Brown University, and it was at Brown that we not only fell in love with each other but truly experienced the possibility and impact of great thinkers and researchers. We currently live in Indianapolis with our daughter, and because of our amazing experience at Brown, we are both researchers and teachers. I research new religious movements in the Africana diaspora and teach undergraduates, and Brownsyne researches health disparities and teaches medical students and residents.”

Do you think College Visions is an important resource to the community?

“Yes, it is a critical resource for any community that desires to see students get accepted, attend and thrive, and ultimately graduate from a 4-year college or university. College Visions is an important organization because it not only demystifies the college application and transition process, but also supports students as they matriculate and ultimately graduate. This organization provides these burgeoning scholars with a community to share successes and grievances as well as expects them to support and teach others who are navigating the same process. It is not just an important resource; it is an essential one, and one that I wish that every community and school district had.”

Why is education important to you?

“The university pays our bills (We both research and teach at Indiana University). More importantly we recognize that education is not simply a pathway to social mobility and increased economic opportunity, but we believe that education is a lifelong practice. Learning new ideas, asking better questions, and teaching others is a liberating and liberative practice and must be available to all in order for there to be a truly democratic society. We both have had the benefit of attending some of the finest educational institutions in the world, and we have been blessed with teachers and mentors who thoughtfully supported and directed us in our vocational journeys. We often say that books and great teachers saved us. As a result, we are committed to ensuring that there is equal access to all types of educational opportunities in this country.“

What moved you to become committed College Visions donors?

“We believe that educational access and equity are paramount. We recognize that not all parents and school systems can provide all of the needed resources themselves. CV is an organization that is responding to a need that first generation families and communities are often unable to provide. We donate because CV is making this vision of access a possibility in Providence and pushing other communities to consider doing the same. Our hope is that there would be CVs in every community across the country.”

Is there anything else you would like to share?

“We are impressed and truly moved by the impact and the fundraising capacity of College Visions. College Visions and its founding executive director, Simon Moore, have done a fantastic job developing individual, corporate, and community donors. We are committed to helping College Visions develop individual donors and support those donors as they share the great work of College Visions with their networks.”

Thank you to Joseph for taking the time to talk to us, and to both Joseph and Brownsyne for your thoughtful dedication to education for your students and for College Visions students. You are building the path to and through college for first-generation students!

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Thanks to friends like you, College Visions supports college students to stay on track from enrollment all the way to graduation through our College Success Program. Do you want to know what CV college students are up to? Here’s a short roundup of exciting news:

Lizbeth Avalos, Rhode Island College Class of 2017

"Studying abroad in Florence was indubitably one of the best experiences of my life. With the help of my host family, I was able to truly immerse into the culture and experience day-to-day life as a Florentine. On weekdays I studied advanced Italian for my minor and on weekends I traveled to various Italian cities, as well as England, France, Germany, Switzerland and Spain. My travels exposed me to a variety of people, cuisines and cultures, but perhaps the most culturally enriching experience I partook in abroad was volunteering as an EMT assistant for 3 months with the Fratellanza Militare in Florence. By choosing to volunteer, I evolved from a simple American study abroad student to an active member of the Florentine community. I assisted people in need, learned about my host city's health care system, visited various homes and hospitals, and saw a side of Florence only locals get to experience. While performing my duties, I strengthened my Italian language skills, solidified my interest in medicine, and made life-long friends. I believe my whole experience abroad strengthened me as a person. I feel more confident and capable than ever to be independent, to help people in need, to study other languages, to experience other cultures, to keep on traveling, to take on the world and to succeed in everything I set my mind to. Studying abroad was definitely THE best experience of my life."

Anta at Barnard

Anta Touray, Barnard College Class of 2017

“I am honored to be a Mellon Fellow as I truly believe that little by little we are contributing to changing the face of academia, transforming it until it reflects the diversity of social economic origin, political inclination, and race in this country. Being a Mellon Fellow afforded me the opportunity to travel to Paris last summer to conduct research in the French archives. My research is a critical reading of the French Revolution following the contradiction between slavery and freedom, through understanding how French planters articulated their right to deny slaves rights based on the revolution's Declaration of the Rights of Man.”

Can't Believe this is real (2)

Benjamin Concepcion, University of Rhode Island Class of 2017 “I could have never seen in my future that I would be in Bhutan. Every morning I see the Himalayas when I wake up! To be honest, I have disliked school, but what I am realizing is that without higher education I would not be who I am today and who I will be once I cross that stage. Bhutan was a dream and now it is a reality, graduation was a dream and soon it will be a moment in my life. College Visions has helped me realize dreams are just goals in the near future. I owe CV.”

Christopher Fevry, Bentley University Class of 2017

“This semester I have been focused on launching my startup. MyBarber allows people to get haircuts whenever or wherever is convenient for them. Through our crowdfunding campaign we were able to raise over $4,000. My time is currently consumed with classes, moving MyBarber forward, and spending time with my friends.”

Check out MyBarber at

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Thanks to our generous community partner Southwest Airlines, College Visions is flying admitted students to visit colleges across the US this spring. Southwest also supports professional development travel for College Visions staff. Recently CV Advisor Francesca and Operations Manager Joshua used vouchers provided by Southwest to fly to Washington, D.C. and participate in data training offered by the National College Access Network.

From Francesca: “The NCAN data training helped me reflect on our work at College Visions and ways to use data to better support students on a path to and through college. The information and connections I made at the training will help me analyze and gather data to better support our programming, and I thank Southwest for making this possible!”

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If you wonder how College Visions has managed to help so many students earn college degrees over the years, here is your answer. Our students’ success is thanks to the amazing people that support College Visions on a day-to-day basis. Jim Olick is a strong supporter and we would like to let him share a bit about himself with you.

Could you tell me a little about yourself?

"As the Director of Admissions Systems and Operations at Johnson & Wales University my days are full of data analysis, working to understand high school students, and what influences their college choices. I’m always looking at the larger patterns within enrollment management. I love that College Visions gives me the chance to help students one-on-one. It is immensely rewarding to help someone achieve the dream of going to college."

"While not working, I enjoy spending time with my family. My wife and I have been married for just under 10 years. Our 7-year-old son keeps our lives full of adventures and on the run. When time permits and the weather agrees, I enjoy gardening. It is nice to slow things down."

Is education important to you and why? What was your educational journey like?

"Education is very important to me. As a lifelong learner, my educational journey is still ongoing. I attended a public high school, East Providence High School. My parents always pushed me to attend college. While never enrolling themselves, they saw the importance of education. It provides a realm of choices, which can be otherwise lost. During my college search, costs were a major factor. I chose to forgo a selective private institution as they provided minimal financial aid. The University of Rhode Island is where I received my Bachelors, double majoring in Management Information Systems and Marketing. A few years after graduating I returned part time for a MBA. Currently I am working towards a Doctorate in Education at Northeastern University, recently completing coursework and moving into the dissertation phase."

What moves you to donate to CV?

"My direct experiences of how costs can quickly close doors in a college search provided a connection to CV’s mission. Seeing how effective CV is with supporting their students is beyond impressive. Being data focused, how CV outperforms the national averages in retention and graduation proves the value in the work being done."

Do you think CV is an important resource to the community?

"CV provides an invaluable resource to the community. Education provides a path towards economic freedom. Supporting those who may otherwise not find the path to college helps not only the students, but the wider community. The outside donations from organizations such as Bank of America, Citizens Bank, and BankRI provide external validation that many organizations are seeing the importance in the work done by CV."

Is there anything else you would like to share?

"I’ve been proud to support CV. Every chance I get I try to share the good work being done and how impressive the students are. I’m looking forward to helping next cycle as the admissions and financial aid timelines are shifted due to the “Prior Prior year” FAFSA changes. It will be a whole new world with financial aid processing starting in October instead of January. I hope this provides students with more time to make informed decisions."

We are honored to have him Jim our corner. He believes in College Visions and providing students with the right tools and resources to build a foundation in education that they may use throughout their lives. Thank you, Jim for supporting CV 100%!

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This year, College Visions guided 81 low-income, first-generation 12th graders through the college admissions process. After all the hard work, and thanks to the support of friends like you, acceptance letters have arrived! 100% of our students received an acceptance (Is his true? Double check with Raul), and they’ve been admitted to a long list of schools including Boston College, Brandeis, Brown, Community College of Rhode Island, Dickinson, Guilford, Gustavus Adolphus, Macalester, Mount Holyoke, Muhlenberg, Providence College, Rhode Island College, and University of Rhode Island. Students are visiting colleges, weighing financial aid awards, and getting ready to make a choice by May 1.

Garty describes himself as “shy,” but if you met him you might disagree. On the many afternoons that he spends at College Visions, Garty always makes sure to stop and say hi to everyone in the office.

Like each of the 81 College Visions 12th graders Garty came to us with big dreams and big fears. He knew he wanted to go to college, but he remembers, “I didn’t know how to start. I didn’t know anything about the Common App or about financial aid.”

Garty attends Central High School. His main interests are science and art. He has been interested in animals since the 7th grade and plans to study zoology in college. He works hard on his paintings, sculptures, and drawings, with help from our partner organization, New Urban Arts. Garty also keeps busy working at a movie theatre and writing a novel in his spare time.

When he came for his application interview, he says, “I was scared, and I walked around the building a bunch of times. I don’t go a lot of places in Providence and I felt nervous.” But, when he got to the office he met College Visions advisor Emily, and “I made some jokes and she laughed. She wasn’t someone who would just treat me like a kid,” so Garty decided to stick with College Visions.

Thanks to our friends and supporters, College Visions has been there for Garty throughout 12th grade, even though “I didn’t realize how much work it would be to apply to college. Now, I’m glad that my advisor made me do everything. And they taught me stuff like how to talk on the phone and how to do financial aid forms. My mom really likes College Visions too because of the help with fee waivers.”

You will be happy to know that Garty worked hard all year, and he has earned acceptances to several colleges including the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, and Canisius College! He is waiting to compare all of his financial aid packages before he makes a final decision, but he knows that next September he will be a college student!

And College Visions support doesn’t stop with college acceptances. After high school graduation, Garty will become part of the College Visions College Success Program, and we will continue to support him all the way to college graduation!

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225 Degrees and Rising!

Please join us to celebrate College Visions Graduates/Por favor, acompañanos para la ceremonia de graduación de College Visions  

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016/martes, 24 of mayo del 2016, 5:30pm – 8:00pm                

The Met School’s Black Box Theater              

325 Public St., Providence, RI 02907  

(Parking will be available in The Met parking lot. Bus routes 1, 3, and 11 go to The Met)/(Estacionamiento sera disponible en el aparcadero del Met. Los autobuses 1, 3 y 11 van al Met)  

Light refreshments will be served!/REFRIGERIOS SERÁN SERVIDOS!  



Please RSVP at:

Por favor confirmer su asistencia a:

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Operation FAFSA: Complete

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100% of College Visions 12th graders and 95% of college students have completed their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)! This is such great news! As some of you may know, students must fill out the FAFSA in order to receive financial aid. The amount of money students receive in their financial aid package can be the determining factor in which school they are able to attend. So, with that in mind, this application is pretty important to everyone who wants to go to any college or university. Luckily, all CV 12th graders and college students, as well as their families have support from CV advisors and our generous volunteers as they work through the FAFSA. FAFSA season requires a lot of work, but together we get it done!

New requirements for establishing a Federal Student Aid (FSA ID) made the FAFSA process longer and more complicated for some CV students and families, but because CV advisors offered FAFSA workshops and parties early in the year, students and families got an early start. With this support, CV students got their applications in by the March 1 Rhode Island priority deadline!

It got really crowded in the office during FAFSA season, but we got it done!
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I, personally, had the opportunity to help students complete this application during one of CV’s FAFSA workshops. I got to meet some of the faces in the upcoming generation and I can tell you that each one will make our future that much brighter. Working with College Visions students is definitely a rewarding experience and I am so glad they are continuing to set the bar as a college access/success nonprofit. To all those students who have completed their FAFSA application, CONGRATULATIONS, you are that much closer to earning a college degree!



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