By ALVIN REINER Press-Republican
---- — ESSEX — Joshua Johnson is living testament to the success of College for Every Student.
The organization recently unveiled its new headquarters, with former participants and dignitaries lauding its efforts to encourage kids in high school to pursue further education.
“The odds were stacked against me, but CFES redirected my path,” said Johnson, who is now a senior at Penn State.
He described how he made extra money by tap dancing in New York City subways.
Johnson, who demonstrated his talent to the assemblage, has been featured on “Dancing with the Stars.”
Over the last 22 years, CFES has helped make college a reality for more than 75,000 low-income, first-generation youths by raising academic aspirations and performance.
The headquarters is housed in the 6,000-square-foot back portion of the Essex Post Office building, which, over the years, was also a theater and office site.
Another College for Every Student alum Shameka Cobb is now a Cornell medical student. After she emotionally recounted her journey to success, she said: “I think of all of the lives that will change because of this opportunity.”
FROM AT RISK TO ACCLAIM
Former SUNY Plattsburgh Student Body President Angel Acosta said he came from a disadvantaged family in the Dominican Republic.
”By the time I had joined CFES, I had attended five schools in 10 neighborhoods in New York City. I had problems (of) not focusing and was considered ‘at risk’ and had no other role model.”
Acosta now serves as a program director for College for Every Student.
Rick and Karen Dalton have devoted the past 22 years toward building and guiding the organization and hope to not only greatly increase the number of students but utilize the new facility to communicate with students worldwide.
In addition to offices, the new center provides state-of-the-art meeting space for trainings and gatherings.
The facility is intended to meet organizational needs, increase the agency’s scope and impact, maximize efficiency and incubate regional economic revitalization.
The board room has been named after Lawson and Clint Allen, longtime seasonal residents of Essex, who also have developed a scholarship for graduating high school students from the town, which amounts to $10,000 over four years.
KUDOS FOR CFES
Willsboro School Superintendent Stephen Broadwell has his school affiliated with the organization and yearly visits with students from Harlem who participate.
“We have an advantage in having this amazing center of CFES in our back yard to create a culture that values education,” Broadwell said.
James H. Carter, former Selma, Ala., superintendent of schools, said he is “honored to be a partner of the new venture” and talked about how important it is to the future of the United States.
”If we are to remain No. 1, we must educate every boy and girl. This country has so much to offer, and we need to raise the expectations of these young people.”
GE Foundation has been a partner in the venture. The company’s education director, Kelli Wells, said: “Thousands and thousands of students have been touched, and it’s something we should all be proud of.”
State Assemblyman Dan Stec, Congressman Bill Owens and former Gov. George Pataki also all praised the organization, as did former Lake Placid School Superintendent Dr. Ernie H. Stratton, now board chair for College for Every Student.
“You can’t put a dollar amount on what has been done and all the lives CFES has touched in raising the aspirations and performances of students,” Stratton said. “CFES is more important than standardized tests.”
Email Alvin Reiner:firstname.lastname@example.orgTO LEARN MORE College for Every Student serves 20,000 students, known as CFES scholars, in 200 urban and rural schools across 24 states. Over the last seven years, 95 percent of CFES scholars graduated from high school and went on to college. For more information, go to: www.collegefes.org.