Central Texas held the Second Annual College Signing Day hosted by the University of Texas-Austin on Friday, April 29, 2016.  The event celebrated the academic achievements of over 800 graduating seniors and 500 eighth graders from around the region who will be among the first in their families to pursue higher education!  The inaugural CTX College Signing Day was held in the spring of 2015 at Huston-Tillotson University with over 400 students attending.  This year, that number tripled.  Next year we expect that number to grow even more!
Inspired by the NCAA’s National Signing Day, the Central Texas College Signing Day focuses on celebrating excellence in the classroom, with a focus to give academics as much significance as achievement in athletics. It is connected to the First Lady Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher Initiative, a national movement to encourage students to take charge of their future by completing their education beyond high school. Reach Higher stresses that in today’s economy a high school diploma is simply not enough!  Students are encouraged to prepare themselves for career opportunities by completing a professional training program, acquire a certificate or an associate degree at a community college or complete a degree at a college or university.  The Central Texas College Signing Day is considered to be one of the most successful events and movements nationally!
At this year’s event, Dr. David Laude of the University of Texas welcomed students to the UT campus. He was joined by Austin Mayor Steve Adler, President Colette Pierce Burnette of Huston-Tillotson University, Provost Charles Cook of Austin Community College, superintendents Dr. Paul Cruz (Austin ISD), Dr. Jodi Duron (Elgin ISD) and Dr. Douglas Killian (Hutto ISD) in the program.  District school board members, higher education leaders, community leaders, funders and philanthropists were also present to show their support for the Class of 2016.
Seniors publicly made a commitment to pursue their higher education goals through attending college and/or a university, and/or earn their professional credentials or certificates. The program also included a mascot dance off, games for students and inspiring speeches. This year 8th graders from 10 middle schools from Del Valle ISD and Austin ISD were invited to attend.  They also made the public commitment pledge to attend and complete college.

2016 CSD 2

2016 CSD 2

2016 CSD 3

2016 CSD 4

Our thanks to our media partners for the coverage of this event:
KXAN – http://kxan.com/2016/04/29/college-signing-day-highlights-academics
FOX News http://www.fox7austin.com/news/local-news/134622321-story
Austin-American Statesman – see article Tuesday, May 3, 2016; Metro Section, Front Page
Community Impact – Look for the article in the upcoming issue!

The following colleges and universities participated in this regional event:
Austin Community College
Concordia University
Huston-Tillotson University
St. Edward’s University
Sam Houston State University
Southwestern University
Texas A&M – College Station
Texas A&M – Corpus Christi
Texas State University
United States – Armed Forces
University of Texas — Austin
University of Texas – San Antonio
University of Houston
University of Houston – Victoria
The following community partners supported the development of the program:
Austin Area Urban League
Austin College Access Network
ACC’s College Destination Center
Austin Independent School District
Austin Young Chamber
Bank of America
Breakthrough Austin
City of Austin
College Forward
Con Mi Madre
Del Valle Independent School District
E3 Alliance
Frost Bank
Generation TX
Greater Austin Black Chamber of Commerce
Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce
Hispanic Scholarship Consortium
Longhorn Center for School Partnerships
New York Life
Office of Mayor Steve Adler
SOS Leadership
Teach for America Austin Alumni
The Reintegration Economic Assistance
Workforce Solutions – Capital Area
The following organizations sponsored the 2016 College Signing Day:
A+ Federal Credit Union
Austin Community College
Bank of America
E3 Alliance
Greater Austin Black Chamber
Heritage Title Company
IBC Bank
University Federal Credit Union
University of Texas – Austin
Wells Fargo
Together we support all of our students as they reach their highest dreams and aspirations!  This is the start of a diverse, dynamic and inclusive movement to create a culture of college and higher education in our region.   We hope you will continue to support CTX College Signing Day as we explore exciting possibilities for our students and our region!
For more information, and to get involved, please contact Christine Bailie, Director of High School, College and Career Success, at E3 Alliance, cbailie@e3alliance.org or Fritz Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of YouthLaunch, ffitzpatrick@youthlaunch.org
Khotan Shahbazi-Harmon
Director of Communications & Community Accountability
E3 Alliance
Office: (512) 223-7244
Mobile: (512) 968-3023
Email: kharmon@e3alliance.org