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ASU’s American Dream Academy partners with AWC & YUHSD to get more students to college

Participants can qualify for one-time promise award for $4,000 to ASU or $500 to AWC

Yuma, AZ (December 11, 2018) – Arizona State University’s American Dream Academy has ventured out of the Phoenix metropolitan area for the first time in the program’s 12-year history to partner with Arizona Western College and the Yuma Union High School District. The program acts as an additional support to help students and their families through the process of graduating from high school and continuing on to higher education.

The initiative aligns with AWC’s Strategic Plan, which set the Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) of doubling the rate of earned baccalaureate degrees in Yuma and La Paz counties by 2035.

“The American Dream Academy ties in with AWC’s Strategic Plan and goals. Right away we saw this partnership as an opportunity to help increase high school graduation rates and contribute to students reaching higher education and completing their bachelor’s degree,” said Laura Corr, a Secondary Education Instructor at ASU.

There are many pathways to a bachelor’s degree, and participating in the American Dream Academy is one of those pathways. Yuma County high school students who complete the 8-week program with their family can qualify for a one-time $4,000 promise award to ASU or a one-time $500 promise award to AWC. Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and qualify for free and reduced lunch while in high school to be eligible to receive a promise award.

“We want to give students the option of beginning here at AWC and transferring to ASU when they’re ready. Most of our students in Yuma are not ready to leave, and most of our families are not ready for their students to leave home just yet,” said Corr.

“I started at a community college myself, and I know how scary that can be. I am first-generation, and my family would have never even thought about letting me go anywhere else for college. I contributed to my family’s income, so they needed me to be a part of making sure that the rest of the family was taken care of. Going away to college wasn’t an option for me, and I know that’s not an option for many students.”

A total of 390 families from Yuma County have graduated from the American Dream Academy program since the start of the 2018-2019 school year. The American Dream Academy has a 70-percent retention rate for participants. So far, they’ve graduated 89 families from Yuma High School, 93 families from Kofa High School, and San Luis High School had the largest graduating class in Arizona with 208 families. They also plan to open the program to families at Vista Alternative High School next semester.

The American Dream Academy consists of evening classes once a week for eight weeks. During the academy, families learn about ways they can help their children achieve academic success, necessary terms to understand (GPA, SAT, ACT, FAFSA, etc.), and how to pursue scholarships and options to pay for college.

“We know finances are one of the reasons why so many families tend to not even think about pursuing college, so we help them through that process of finding and applying for scholarships,” said Corr. “And the one-time promise award helps get them started. The award can be used towards anything - housing, tuition, or books.”

Visit for more information about the American Dream Academy. All course materials are provided free to participants, thanks to financial support provided by ASU, individual schools and districts, and funding partners.

Laura Corr
Secondary Ed Instructor
Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College
Arizona State University
(928) 317-6205

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