Closing the Gap Awards

College For Every Student has launched its second national search to help schools in need of college and career readiness support.  Four schools will receive Closing the Gap awards, and benefit from three years of CFES program support. Read more about the awards here.

Thank you to the many schools that applied for this year's Closing the Gap program awards! We are reviewing all the applications and will be in touch for interviews with finalists. Please email with any questions during the review process. 



March – April, 2016

Applications reviewed by CFES staff

Phone or video conference interviews with finalists

May 1, 2016

Selected schools notified

August 2016

Year one implementation begins


Program Details

College For Every Student (CFES) is a non-profit organization committed to helping low-income students become college and career ready.  Currently supporting over 25,000 students – known as CFES Scholars – in 200 rural and urban K-12 schools and districts in 30 states and Ireland, CFES provides an adaptable framework that allows schools to custom fit the implementation of three core practices.  The ultimate impact is that CFES Scholars develop The Essential Skills including raised aspirations, adaptability, grit, resilience, teamwork, and leadership.


Schools selected for Closing the Gap awards will receive the following:


Professional Development Activities

Planning/Training Workshop at the CFES Center in Essex, New York.  School teams, college partners, and CFES professionals gather to share CFES-based best practices and design strategies to implement the three core practices within your school. CFES will cover meals, lodging, travel, and materials for four team members to attend.


CFES Annual Conference in Burlington, Vermont.  The Conference brings together 500 K-12 educators, college partners, business leaders, and students to network and resource-share.  CFES will cover registration, meals, lodging, travel, and materials for two team members to attend.


Peer-Mentoring, Leadership Development and College Knowledge Workshops will be facilitated by CFES professionals on-site to help Scholars develop The Essential Skills that promote social and educational uplift.


Spring Gathering at the CFES Center. Two members of each team will gather with other Closing The Gap school representatives to assess progress on their yearly plans and participate in sessions focusing on implementation of the core practices, team building, partnering strategies and program sustainability.


Other Professional Development Opportunities will take place throughout the year for educators to network and build programming that promotes college and 21st century workforce readiness for Scholars.


Professional Development Services & Resources

CFES professionals will meet with the school team regularly throughout the year, including four or five school visits, at CFES events mentioned above, and via Skype (or similar platform), to engage in mentoring, leadership development, college knowledge and career readiness activities that lead to successful implementation of the program.  




  • Over 300 password-protected curricular materials online
  • Access to 200 college/university partners, providing opportunities to interact with college admissions and financial aid counselors, students, staff, and faculty.
  • CFES promotional materials, including banners and posters
  • Monthly CFES Live Chats online
  • Opportunity to become a CFES School of Distinction
  • Annual stipend of $3,000 to cover CFES program expenses (e.g. travel, t-shirts, meals)
  • Communications support, including publication of your success stories in local and national media, on the CFES website, and through social media.


How the Closing The Gap Program works:

  • Schools that receive a Closing The Gap Award will get three years of College For Every Student programming as outlined above. This is a program award, not a cash award.
  • For schools that receive a “fully funded” award, College For Every Student will cover the full annual cost of programming totaling $30,000.
  • Schools that receive a “partially funded” award are asked to contribute $15,000 annually to cover half the cost of programming. CFES will cover the remaining $15,000.


Expectations of CFES Schools

  • Develop a CFES school-based team composed of teachers, faculty and staff, students, parents, and/or community members.  
  • Appoint a CFES Liaison who serves as the main point of contact with the CFES central office and your CFES program director.
  • Provide CFES professionals access to your CFES Scholars so they can conduct leadership workshops, peer mentor trainings, development of The Essential Skills, etc.
  • Complete CFES Plan, Mid-Year and End-of-Year Assessments.
  • Brand College For Every Student within your school/community.
  • Track and evaluate program impact for a subset of at least 100 students.
  • Engage your students schoolwide in the three core practices: MentoringLeadership Through Service, and Pathways.


Every CFES Scholar has a mentor - a community member, college student, and/or peer – who provides a firsthand look at the confidence, attitude and habits it takes to succeed.

Leadership Through Service
CFES Scholars serve others, improve their communities and participate in ongoing leadership development and develop plans to share the benefits of their accomplishments. In the process, they build Essential Skills to help them succeed in college and in the 21st-century workforce.

CFES Scholars visit college campuses, interact with college students and faculty, and receive instructive exposure to the college admission process, financial aid programs, and other aspects of the higher education experience. Additionally, CFES Scholars get career guidance through mentors, role models, internships, job shadowing and other activities.



The "Closing the Gap" awards are part of our commitment to scale up and help one million low-income youth attain college degrees by 2025.