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Breakthrough Central Texas’ Daniel Jackson Wins 2018 College Access Practitioner Award of Excellence

Monday, September 24, 2018  
Posted by: Lindsay Broderick, Staff Writer
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Daniel Jackson of Breakthrough Central Texas was awarded the Dr. David B. Swedlow Memorial College Access Practitioner Award of Excellence today at NCAN’s 23rd annual national conference in Pittsburgh.

The award recognizes the dedication, hard work, and innovation of an individual working at a college access program.

As director of college completion at Breakthrough, Daniel leads a team of counselors who work with first-generation students from low-income communities to ensure successful completion of their postsecondary education.

Daniel has dedicated his career to helping underserved students. He started as a counselor for the University of California’s Early Academic Outreach Program, where he helped first-generation students matriculate. After earning a master’s degree in school counseling from New York University, Daniel became a counselor at an early college high school in the Bronx. While there, he implemented the successful Dual Enrollment Early College Program, which yielded one of the highest graduation rates in New York City. Forty percent of the program’s seniors graduated with an associate degree in addition to their high school diploma.

Daniel’s last position before joining Breakthrough Central Texas was as the lead counselor at Webb Middle School in Austin, TX. As a result of the strong connections Daniel made at Webb, Breakthrough was able to bolster its partnership with the school and other schools in the district.

Before Daniel started at Breakthrough, the organization focused predominantly on students who were pursuing a four-year degree. Daniel helped lead a research project to develop a resource called the College Fit Guide that is helping the organization broaden its services and expertise to better serve students who attend two-year schools and certificate programs. The guide helps first-generation and low-income students, families, and counselors choose a college that is best for a student, in terms of academic, social/cultural, and financial fit. Currently, Daniel is leading Breakthrough’s initiative to develop a College Persistence Guide. The purpose of the guide is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the organization’s college counseling and help maintain its high completion rates as the number of students Breakthrough serves rises.

Daniel also works to collaborate with Texas higher education intuitions. He facilitated a partnership with Austin Community College by developing relations with the college’s counselors as well as the financial aid and admissions staff. These relationships have allowed Daniel to gain a greater understanding of what Breakthrough students must do to enroll in the most promising programs and/or get on the path to transfer to a four-year institution.

The tremendous work Daniel has done on behalf of Breakthrough has not been without reward. Six-year college completion rates for Breakthrough students have improved by 11 percentage points, from 51 to 62 percent, since Daniel joined the organization in 2014. Additionally, the number of students Breakthrough serves is projected to grow from 250 to more than 1,250 over the next few years.

Oscar Sweeten-Lopez, president of College Success Tools at the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation presented Daniel with his award at the conference. Daniel’s organization will receive $1,000 to put toward professional development. His award was named for Dr. David B. Swedlow, former NCAN director of programs, after his passing and in honor of his commitment to the cause of college access. Past winners include:

  • 2017: Maria Carvalho, College Crusade of Rhode Island, Providence, RI
  • 2016: Ramiro Fonseca, Program Manager for College Access and Success, Project GRAD Houston, Houston, TX
  • 2015: Troy Miller, Florida College Access Network, Tampa, FL
  • 2014: David J. Rodriguez, Metropolitan Education Commission, Tucson, AZ
  • 2013: Cheryl Lee Jones, Program Director, Access College Foundation, Norfolk, VA
  • 2012: Daniel Cruz, Director of Student & Parent Services, Education is Freedom, Dallas, TX
  • 2011: Samuel Rowser, Program Director, On Point for College, Syracuse, NY
  • 2010: Jerry Henry, Director of High School Advising, uAspire, Boston, MA
  • 2009: Linda Shiller, Director Career and Education Outreach, Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, Winooski, VT
  • 2008: Victor Garcia, Director of Outreach Projects, USC Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2007: Angela Whitlow, Program Director, Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, St. Louis, MO

NCAN solicits nominees from its membership for the annual Awards of Excellence in College Access and Success. A committee of NCAN members reviews all nominations, with final decisions confirmed by the NCAN board of directors. NCAN thanks the nine members of the 2018 Awards Committee for their service:

  • Maria Carvalho, The College Crusade of Rhode Island
  • Ramiro Fonseca, Project GRAD Houston
  • Angel Garcia, Georgetown University, Institute for College Preparation
  • Tim Herron, Degrees of Change
  • Kim Mazzuca, 10,000 Degrees
  • Troy Miller, Florida College Access Network
  • Monica Montenegro, East Bay Consortium of Educational Institutions, Inc.
  • David Rodriguez, Metropolitan Education Commission
  • Alexandra Sabin, Academic Success Program