Last Friday may have been one of the hottest days of the year. The heat index was 120 degrees and yet Generation Hope staff was standing in a 30 to 40-minute line outside of the White House waiting for a tour of the East Wing. The tour was a part of the Office of Public Engagement's Community Leaders Briefing of which we were taking part.
The morning began with a briefing from representatives from the Department of Education. We learned about the major initiatives regarding higher ed. Key aspects of their plan include 1) access, 2) quality, and 3) completion. Generation Hope's work to make college more accessible for pregnant and parenting teens, to support them while they're in college, and to ensure that they earn their college degrees falls right in line with the department's work. Overall, we were pleased with what they're up to. For example, they have been working to simplify the FAFSA -- something that used to take days to fill out supposedly now takes minutes. And research shows that 90% of students who fill out a FAFSA actually go on to enroll in college. We decided that the FAFSA needs to be a major discussion at our Hope Conference for current high school students.
The President wants to place 8.2 million more kids in the college pipeline. There's a lot of work to be done, but organizations like ours, that are dedicated to increasing the numbers, will provide the legwork that the President needs to reach this goal.
So, no, we didn't meet President Obama, but it was very cool to be in the rooms where he conducts his press conferences and state dinners. It's always nice to go into Washington, to think "outside of the box," and to walk the halls of our country's leaders. We probably lost 10 pounds in the heat, but we gained some great knowledge for our work ahead.