College prep organization expands

September 19, 2016

Rep. Johnson joins Gilbert Bonafé Jr. (left), the Windham site director for Higher Edge’s satellite center at ECSU, and Ruud Erie, a member of Higher Edge’s board of directors.

State Senator Mae Flexer (D-Danielson) joined State Representative Susan Johnson (D-Windham), U.S. Congressman Joe Courtney (D-2) and other community partners for the launch of the second Higher Edge site in the state at Eastern Connecticut State University.

Higher Edge is a New London-based college completion organization that currently serves over 200 students in high school and college, and is the only organization that is solely dedicated to college completion for low-income and first-generation, college-bound students.

“This is a wonderful addition to our region’s educational opportunities. We have worked hard to ensure our kids have access to higher education, especially at the excellent colleges here in eastern Connecticut, like ECSU. But it is just as important that we focus on ensuring our young people succeed during their time in college and that they have the support they need in order to graduate,” said Sen. Flexer. “As a first-generation college student, I know firsthand what it’s like to navigate the system without the benefit of having someone who went before you leading the way. Higher Edge will be a tremendous asset and resource for students in our community who are smart, capable and willing, but need a little more help when it comes to getting across the finish line.”

"By bringing Higher Edge to our community, Chris Soto is fulfilling a big part of the vision I've had for this region since I began my work, and that is to make sure all of our educational institutions are working together. I'm very excited about this new satellite office in Willimantic, because Higher Edge is the piece of the puzzle that will allow the coordination of all of our assets and educational institutions so students in our region can access the services they need to be ready for college and the labor market,” said Rep Johnson. “I am so pleased to see the work being done by Chris Soto and others in our community to make sure the under-served in Windham have access to all the services and skills they need to find quality employment with a bright future."

“The expansion of Higher Edge into Windham will be a helpful development for our first generation, college-bound students,” said Congressman Courtney. “Higher Edge has been an invaluable resource to local students in New London since 2011. I am happy to celebrate their expansion in order to serve more students across eastern Connecticut.”

“The work that Higher Edge is performing in our communities is life-changing. They are proving the power of one-on-one coaching as a means to helping students achieve their dream of a college education,” said Dr. Elsa Núñez, president of Eastern Connecticut State University.

Chris Soto, Higher Edge’s Executive Director said, “Expanding this work into Willimantic further underscores our commitment to serve Connecticut’s smaller cities who are often forgotten about but have the same talented students who want to enter college. Our students are thriving at Eastern CT State University so we’re naturally thrilled that our partnership will be strengthened by serving the Windham region’s high school students.”

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Monday in the Johnson Room at Eastern Connecticut State University’s Library to celebrate Higher Edge’s expansion into Willimantic.

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