Commerce City Youth Commission Focused on Improving Student Achievement

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Commerce City Youth have set their sites on moving the needle in Post-Secondary Enrollment rates and are focusing on FAFSA Completion as their leading indicator of success.


The Commerce City Youth Commission serves as an advisory body to the Commerce City – City Council and works to implement projects in alignment with their Youth and Families Master Plan. This year, the Youth Commission invited ACYI in to facilitate the development of a project using the continuous improvement methodology.

The Youth Commission began their work by looking at data from the Adams County Student Survey (ACSS) along with high school graduation and post-secondary enrollment rates for both Adams City High School and Prairie View High School, the two schools represented by students. A deep dive of data showed students that an opportunity exists in helping to increase post-secondary enrollment rates. They determined that the best way to move the needle in post-secondary enrollment is in increasing Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) completion rates at each school.

According to the National College Access Network, millions of students who are eligible for aid fail to file the FAFSA each year, leaving “money on the table” that could be supporting their post-secondary education. For example, a study released in January by the financial media company NerdWallet found that of the U.S. high school graduating class of 2014, an average of 45 percent of students failed to complete the FAFSA. NerdWallet estimated that half of those FAFSA noncompleters would have been eligible for Pell Grants totaling an astounding $2.7 billion.

FAFSA non-completion rates present an enormous opportunity because FAFSA completion is so strongly correlated with good post-secondary student outcomes. First, FAFSA completion is strongly associated with post-secondary enrollment: 90 percent of high school seniors who complete FAFSA attend college directly from high school, compared to just 55 percent of FAFSA non-completers. READ MORE about why FAFSA completion rates are important.

Using basic continuous improvement techniques like Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA) and focused on frequent data monitoring and reporting to test their strategies, the youth are positioned to launch their projects in March. They are in the process of coordinating with FAFSA projects already planned by their schools and overlaying their planned strategies. Stay tuned for an update on their progress.


ACYI Partners across our community are working to improve education success for our children and youth. Focused on a common vision, and implementing and practicing data-driven action, these Partners are hyper focused on real impact for kids.

We are committed to sharing these Stories of Impact and showcasing the work that is pointed at moving the needle in each of our Cradle to Career Outcome Areas. Watch for ACYI #StoriesOfImpact like the one above in our monthly newsletter and across our social media channels.

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