Texas’ vast rural landscape presents a logistical challenge to delivering a consistent framework of college access and success supports to rural students and their parents.
To overcome this challenge, the Rural Student Success Initiative (RSSI) takes advantage of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service’s unique statewide platform of place-based county agents and youth development staff. In its inception phase, the Initiative paired Extension’s place-based platform with two best-in-class college access/success organizations, College Forward and the National College Attainment Network (NCAN), to provide students, their parents and schools with information and services shown to increase college participation and success. As a member of NCAN, AgriLife Extension draws on the suite of college access resources and best practices shared across NCAN members to improve postsecondary outcomes at RSSI demonstration sites.
RSSI continues to develop a stronger partner network of resources for its demonstration sites. Mindful of the geographic rural challenges, RSSI’s goal is to connect partners and leverage each other’s resources for collectively addressing educational disparities across rural communities. Having already laid a strong foundation across the initial cohort of demonstration sites, RSSI continues to scale its reach to additional school districts in remote regions of the state. As it expands, RSSI capitalizes on its own lessons learned and those of its rural-focused partners, along with emerging rural research findings, to continue to propel collective action among rural education stakeholders.
RSSI presently serves approximately 5,300 middle through high school students in 17 rural school districts across 15 geographically remote counties in the state.