Metropolitan Inner-Faith Association- COOL
MIFA COOL: College Offers Opportunities for Life
Mission Statement: “Supporting the independence of vulnerable seniors and families in crisis through high-impact programs”
Who They Are
In 1968, Memphis became the shame of the country following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. The city became reflective of the racial and poverty tensions mounting throughout the country. Mourning the death of the civil rights’ leading voice, however, was not enough for struggling Memphians. If the city wanted to break away from its negative image, it needed positive action, immediately. Quick to respond, MIFA began to work collectively with community members in order to improve services and quality of life for individuals in need across the city. With 9 total programs, MIFA has dedicated their time to serve over 50,000 annually. Beginning in 2006, the organization has particularly been effective in guiding young adults through the murky waters of high school. Recognizing the support system necessary for high school students to achieve, MIFA created the C.O.O.L. Program (College Offers Opportunities for Life) to provide mentoring and assistance to young teenagers in West Tennessee’s poorest zip code- 38126. Focusing on the area’s children, the program only accepts children from Booker T. Washington and Carver High School so they can attend to the children who need support and guidance the most. The program offers continuous ACT prep workshops, college tours, one-on-one counseling, FAFSA assistance, and anything else they see necessary to succeed.
Upon entrance into the C.O.O.L. designated area at MIFA, it is mind-blowing to see the level of focus and attention on the face of each student. The C.O.O.L. program’s college prep and data collection processes have been nothing short of incredible. The results of their meticulous approach to college access speak for themselves. Since 2010, 171 students in total have graduated from the C.O.O.L. program. As of December 2013, 80% of their students are either still enrolled or have already graduated from post-secondary education. With the program’s unique process, MIFA has been able to successfully track their individual students throughout their high school career and achieve these results. They focus on ACT prep, FASFA completion, and assistance with college applications. While unique, the program and its process is also quite demanding as the students are expected to carry their fair share of the load as well. The program stresses the importance of the ACT, as every student participates in continuous ACT prep workshops where professional tutors guide students to overcome their struggles in school and/or testing. With this type of continuous prep, the COOL Program can evaluate their students’ progress with more consistency and more data, which has been crucial in tracking their success. As the organization is given access to ACT scores, report cards, GPAs, and literacy scores, the COOL program has helped their students overcome the ACT and then take the steps needed to get into college. Following the ACT process, a lot of parental education goes into helping their students get into college. While the program can pay for college application fees, they cannot complete the FAFSA without the help of the family. So, they increase awareness about filing out FAFSA to help students get the most money they can for their student to attend college. After the FAFSA is complete and each student sees how much they will be given to attend school, the COOL staff makes sure their students make the most logical college decision. And as a third-parent, COOL advisors keeps in contact with students once they enroll in college to make sure they are doing what they need to obtain a college degree.
MIFA and its COOL Program have become reflective of the Seeding Success Partnership’s strive towards continuous improvement. The level of focus within the organization should be a source of motivation for other CAN Partners. The organization has committed itself to the Post-Secondary Access CAN as an experienced leader who can express its past success and its learned lessons. Although the organization has 9 programs in total, each stays in its own realm with no overlap, which has helped the COOL program focus its attention towards improving their student outcomes.
Post-Secondary Access Programs:
• ACT Prep Workshops
• College Tours
• One-on-one Counseling
• FAFSA Assistance
• College Application Assistance
-by Christian Warren, Rhodes Intern