SPRINGFIELD — American International College, in collaboration with the Coalition of Experienced Black Educators Inc. and the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership, will host its second annual Parents as Partners on the Pathway to Higher Education, a citywide forum for families, expectant students and friends on Jan. 30 in the Schwartz Campus Center Auditorium at AIC from 5-8 p.m. It’s a free event to attend, walk-ins welcome, dinner will be provided and free parking.

AIC President Hubert Benitez stated, “It has been duly noted that parental involvement in the process of identifying, selecting, advocating and supporting students in their quest for higher education is critically important.”

He went on to say, “This year, we want to focus on what that means. How do we as parents create this partnership and bond with students and prospective colleges and create that pathway for our students to pursue a higher education degree.”

COEBE member Willette Johnson added, “We want to encourage the attendance of parents and families at this forum. It is our hope to engage the members of the community through sharing informative research and proven pathways that lead to student success beyond high school.”

Initiated by state Rep. Bud Williams (D-Springfield), the purpose of the Parents as Partners on the Pathway to Higher Education forum is to equip families with essential information, resources, and guidance. The aim is to empower parents with the knowledge they need to understand their role in supporting students aspiring to pursue higher education.

AIC has been a pillar of the city of Springfield for 138 years. Its mission is to serve and provide access opportunities and create a sense of community and belonging to a diverse student body. Last year, AIC was approached by the Coalition of Experienced Black Educators Inc., to create a first of its kind forum to talk about how to collectively work to make pathways to higher education. This collaboration began with conversations with the SEZP leadership.

Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership Chief of Student Support and Services Kisha Morgan said, “The motivation behind this partnership arises from the substantial number of Springfield students attending AIC. COEBE recognized the opportunity to furnish valuable information to families and the community, assisting them in accessing college and addressing aspects such as tuition payments.”

She continued, “A key takeaway from this forum is to have our families feel empowered and informed about the pathways to higher education and how they can support their students in navigating their way through college successfully.”

Following the forum, the three organizations involved will evaluate the event to identify successful elements and areas for improvement. Of greater significance, AIC, along with its partners SEZP and COEBE, is committed to sustaining engagement. They plan to proactively reach out to the participating families to foster an ongoing dialogue and provide continuing support for their young person’s journey toward college.

“The partnership that we have made with these organizations is incredible,” said Benitez. “We are here as the collective trying to address the educational needs of the city of Springfield and the community that serves. It is a unique opportunity for three organizations to truly work together and bring the community into a space where we can explore higher education, talk openly and freely about the opportunity.”

To register for the forum, contact AIC at 413-205-3201.

Miasha Lee
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