Hometown Highlight: College Success Initiative (CSI)

If there ever was a charity to get behind, College Success Initiative (CSI) is one of them.

While the group is only in its first year, they're gaining momentum ever since taking 28 middle and high school students to visit five Texas colleges during the students' spring break.

While many students might grumble at the idea of spending their vacation on a bus, these students, most being from lower-income and single-parent households, were thrilled to not only learn that college is attainable, but to experience all that college campuses have to offer.

The program is special, in that it partners with several schools across Texas that are part of “No Excuses University (NEU).” NEU is a national organization, which was founded by Texan Damen Lopez. Lopez said he believes every student deserves the opportunity to be educated in a way that prepares them for college. Lopez believes it is the responsibility of educators to engage in six specific systems that make college a reality: interventions, data management, assessment, standards alignment, collaboration and a culture of universal achievement.

In short, these partnerships with various elementary, middle and high schools (and now a local church), provide the students with the support, resources and tutoring to help them succeed. It also offers something else though: a personal experience, which is what really gets them motivated.

Volunteers from the community have  stepped up to provide their services. As for the committee, it's made up of a diverse group of leaders: bankers, a school teacher, an insurance agent, financial advisor, church secretary, stay-at-home mom, county commissioner and a college student. All of the committee members share the desire to help young people obtain the opportunity to further their education and increase their chances of having a successful life. The organization hopes students will use their experience to help others in their communities.

CSI is already making plans for the 2016 bus tour. Their 2016 goal is to spread their message of hope to 75 children who want to embark on the journey.

To learn how you can help, and to follow their latest efforts, visit the College Success Initiative Facebook page.