College Now Greater Cleveland to Offer Career and College Exploration Program for First-Time to High School Students in Cleveland’s Slavic Village

Third Federal Savings & Loan awards $85,000 anniversary grant to serve community where bank was founded

CLEVELAND (July 11, 2023) – With an $85,000 grant awarded by Third Federal Savings & Loan, College Now Greater Cleveland will bring its innovative career and college exploration program to 40 high school students who reside in or attend school in Cleveland’s Slavic Village neighborhood. The program, Xplore, focuses on college and career readiness, travel and finding the area of study that is best for each student.

“We are grateful to Third Federal and to the committee of Slavic Village residents for honoring the bank’s 85th anniversary by choosing College Now to receive this generous, one-time grant,” said Lee Friedman, College Now Greater Cleveland’s CEO. “We believe that helping Slavic Village students attain postsecondary educational credentials will help them achieve well-paying careers that will also likely have health benefits, paid time off and support for retirement, creating generational opportunities.”

Starting in Fall 2023, Xplore will take place after school and will include three weeks of research and experiential learning of “meta majors,” or groupings of college majors needed in multiple facets of any given industry. Students will learn from expert advisors and local leaders about different academic majors and resulting careers, and they will then create personalized, in-depth college and career plans while exploring the meta major. Additionally, Slavic Village community stakeholders and business owners will be invited to participate in panel discussions and presentations, sharing with the students how their own career pathways and current roles meet the community’s needs, and can offer insight into other roles that are needed in Slavic Village specifically. The final week of the session includes an out-of-state trip so that students can further explore in-person colleges and careers that align with the chosen meta major for a particular session.

Meta majors include liberal arts; entrepreneurship and business; finance and banking; information technologies; health care; media and entertainment and more. For example, students may explore multiple careers in the music industry, and then travel to Nashville to visit Music Row and tour the Musicians Hall of Fame; visit a recording studio to meet with musicians, producers and marketing executives; visit Fisk and Vanderbilt universities; then board a bus to Atlanta to visit CNN and Tyler Perry Studios and tour Emory, Georgia Tech, Spelman and Morehouse colleges.

“College Now’s Xplore program fulfills the intention of our grant by expanding a program to Slavic Village that could not have otherwise happened and addresses an unmet community need to provide programming for teenagers,” said Emily Thome, Third Federal Foundation executive director. “We are excited to partner with College Now and we’re each dedicated to ensuring that current Slavic Village high school students have opportunities to realize their full potential through education and career, bringing those talents back to the community.”  

In addition, the Xplore program in Slavic Village will address social emotional health as well as offer opportunities for parent, guardian and family engagement. At the close of each session, students will share their college and career research projects with their families, and as a result, parents and guardians will learn how they can support their student’s college and career planning process – and may be motivated to earn their own postsecondary credentials. Parents and guardians will also have the opportunity to chaperone the out-of-state trips.

During the trips, families will participate in guided discussions that result in a collaborative decision-making process of identifying top college choices for their student. The discussions on social and self-awareness and relationship skills will align with families’ desires to help their children envision their futures, aid in goal setting, support community engagement, build confidence and create a sense of self-worth.

High school graduates who have been served by College Now are academically and financially eligible to apply for the College Now scholarship, and eligible Cleveland Metropolitan School District graduates (including public schools in Slavic Village) can have the burden of paying college tuition and fees erased at participating colleges, universities and trade schools with the Say Yes Cleveland scholarship. Scholarship recipients from both programs are matched with a College Now mentor for four years, providing additional support to earning a postsecondary credential and launching a career.

College Now first launched the Xplore program in 2022 through a special, one-time Ohio Department of Education grant program to create and expand afterschool and summer learning opportunities. Since then, College Now has provided more than 290 high school students with this intensive career and college exploration, with trips to Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville, New York City, Raleigh, Virginia and Washington DC.