Welcome to LEAP, Hillsborough’s College Access Network. We’re here to enlist and unite organizations in our community to increase post-secondary degrees and credentials.
To that end, LEAP empowers partner organizations to:
- Understand the current needs of our students on the road to graduate high school;
- Increase enrollment in post-secondary institutions, including training, certifications, associate in arts (AA) and university degree programs;
- Utilize data to evaluate and identify needed programs to achieve our goals.
LEAP’s ultimate goal is to increase the number of 25 – 64 year olds in Hillsborough County with high-quality postsecondary degrees, certificates, and other credentials to 60 percent by the year 2025.
In order to meet our overall goal, we plan to measure several key indicators, including:
- Readiness – students’ aspiration and eligibility for post-secondary opportunities
- Enrollment – the annual number of students enrolled in undergraduate and post-secondary adult vocational programs
- Persistence/Retention – the number of students who continue, their education, from fall to fall
- Completion – the annual number of credentials awarded to students, including post-secondary adult vocational programs
Workforce & Economic Outcomes
- the first year earnings of students who have been awarded post-secondary credentials.
Founded in July 2014, LEAP brought together community partner organizations dedicated to working together to increase access to and attainment of post-secondary degrees and credentials among the Hillsborough County population. The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay serves as the backbone organization and fiduciary agent for LEAP.
Soon after forming, LEAP was invited to participate in the Lumina Foundation Community Partnerships for Attainment program, a national effort aimed at increasing access and attainment to post-secondary credential success. The Lumina Foundation is committed to increasing the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates and other credentials to 60% by 2025.
LEAP has adopted Lumina’s outcome-based approach, focusing on helping to design and build an equitable, accessible, responsive and accountable higher education system while fostering a national sense of urgency for action to achieve Goal 2025. To date, 75 communities over the past 3 years have benefitted from Lumina’s support.
LEAP is also benefitting from the strategic guidance and technical assistance of the Florida College Access Network (FCAN) and the Helios Foundation. LEAP is one of 9 Florida college access organizations in the state of Florida, all supported by FCAN. FCAN provides support to us through their research, data and technical services, sharing of best practices, leading education advocacy/public policy and communications.
LEAP and Hillsborough County, are so fortunate to be part of all of these important organized efforts!
Let’s Look At The Numbers
Our community data shows that low-income and minority students are far more likely to drop out of high school than white students and students at other socio-economic levels. While white students graduate from high school at a rate of 83.57 percent, the high school graduation rates of low-income, African-American and Hispanic students are 61.54 percent, 59.21 percent and 68.42 percent respectively.
Unfortunately, the same holds true for higher education. When students from these at-risk populations do go on to postsecondary institutions, they are more likely to leave prior to completion of a certificate or degree.
Changing the statistics starts here.
We have identified African-American males and Hispanics who represent the first generations in their families to attend college as the target populations for our efforts and strategies.
Our focus is on two key goals for our target groups:
- Greater higher education access for students transitioning from high school to college.
- Persistence toward degree completion for working-age adults already enrolled in college.
Higher completion rates start here.
FUSE is a developing initiative between Hillsborough Community College (HCC) and the University of South Florida (USF) to provide seamless, articulated pathways to promote degree attainment from the associates degree at HCC through the bachelor’s level from USF. HCC students who meet the criteria of the program will be identified, co-advised and tracked as FUSE students and will be guaranteed admission to USF upon the successful completion of an associates degree from HCC. FUSE students will also be eligible to participate in many university activities to promote a greater sense of belonging between the college and university communities.
Hillsborough County Public Schools and a number of community partners are working together to increase our students’ FAFSA completion rates across the District. The team has designed an annual FASFA completion strategy, leveraging college and career counselors, community partners, parent volunteers and local college and university Financial Aid experts. Since tax form information is an important input to FASFA applications, community partners offering free tax preparation services will also be able to provide FAFSA counseling to Hillsborough families. LEAP expects to see an increase in students attending post-secondary institutions, given the increased focus on successful completion and submission of FASFA forms, resulting in increased financial assistance to students.
LEAP will identify and engage individuals, organizations, and corporations with services and supports to enable target populations to access and successfully complete post-secondary and other credentialing opportunities. Our Asset Mapping team will track progress and assess community needs and input to ensure LEAP’s strategies are timely and effective.
The Strategic Communications working group, comprised of communications professionals from several partner organizations, is focused on supporting communications needs of the network and its working groups. The team will market LEAP to the community by engaging various communication channels. This inclusive strategy will enable LEAP to identify and cultivate connections with a broader group of stakeholders, enlisting their support and involving them in our county-wide efforts.