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Pioneer for Creating College-Going Culture Among Underserved DC Students Sets a Firm Foundation for Organization’s Next Phase of Growth

WASHINGTON, D.C. (September 22, 2021) – DC College Access Program (DC-CAP) President and CEO Argelia Rodriguez announced today that she has decided to “graduate” from the organization and step down at the end of the current school year in June 2022.

As the first President and CEO, Rodriguez has served DC students and their families for more than 23 years. Under her leadership, DC-CAP surpassed the founders’ goals, which included doubling the number of DC students enrolling in college, tripling the number who graduate and establishing a college-going culture across the District.

To date, DC-CAP has helped enroll more than 35,000 students in post-secondary education, supports more than 6,700 students currently in college, celebrates the success of 14,000 college graduates, and has awarded nearly $55 million scholarship dollars to DC students.

“When we started DC-CAP, we set out to help break the cycle of poverty which comes from under education,” said Argelia Rodriguez. “We created a college-going culture among DC students and families where higher education is the expectation, not the exception. As a result, DC-CAP is now well-positioned to focus on the critical need to provide more scholarships and prepare our DC students to take advantage of the increasing demand for skilled workers in the DMV. To say it has been an honor to serve DC-CAP would be an understatement. I am proud of the work we have done collaboratively with our board members, business leaders, and especially the dedicated principals, teachers and counselors, along with our DC-CAP families.”

“Thank goodness for Argelia Rodriguez,” said Donald E. Graham, DC-CAP Founder and Chairman, Graham Holdings Company. “She built DC-CAP from the beginning. The team she hired and the scholarships DC-CAP awarded made a crucial difference in the lives of thousands of our city’s students. DC’s public and charter school leaders had no better collaborator through all the changes of the last 23 years; and, she is leaving DC-CAP ready for a great future.”

“We are profoundly grateful to Argelia for taking these first, pioneering steps to reimagine how to ensure more students of the District could become college-bound, and for creating the systems and supports to help so many achieve that dream,” said Ted Leonsis, Chairman, DC-CAP, Founder & CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment. “Thanks to her passion and leadership, we are in an excellent position to continue this critical work so that even more students across DC can fundamentally change their life trajectories by making it to and through college.”

In 1999, when DC-CAP began, available data suggested that less than one-third of DC high school graduates enrolled in college or pursued post-secondary education, which was less than half the national average. Of those who enrolled, it was estimated that no more than 15 percent would graduate within ten years. Today, DC students enroll in college at close to the national average and are averaging a 50% six-year college graduation rate.

DC-CAP is now well-positioned to enter its next phase of support for DC students, including three new core programs: University Partnerships, STEM Ready Program and DC-CAP Scholarship Program. In its University Partnership Program, DC-CAP has teamed up with high-performing universities that are committed to increasing enrollment and graduation rates for DC students. The STEM Ready Scholarship Program focuses on creating a culture of STEM achievement among DC high school students by executing a scalable and replicable program that assists in students’ academic preparation and motivation to pursue and earn STEM degrees. Finally, the DC-CAP Scholarship Program helps fund ancillary costs associated with attending college, including food, books and supplies, travel, and incidentals. With skyrocketing costs of attending college, DC-CAP continues to grow its scholarship program to meet the increase in financial needs. Qualified students can earn up to $4,000 per year for five years.

“We don’t believe the lack of financial and other resources should hold back young people from lower-income households who want to earn their college degree,” added Rodriguez. “Everyone should have the chance of a promising future.”

The board of directors is in the process of launching a national search for her successor. Rodriguez will serve as an advisor and consultant to DC-CAP in support of its success moving forward.

About DC-CAP

DC-College Access Program (DC-CAP) is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping DC students prepare for, enroll in, and graduate from college as the cornerstone of a successful future. Since 1999, DC-CAP has worked with parents and educational partners, inspiring, counseling and providing fundamental support to help low-income DC students believe that college is possible, find the path to get there and complete their education. DC-CAP has helped more than 35,000 students enroll in college, supports more than 6,700 currently in college through its retention division, has awarded nearly $55 million in scholarships, and has celebrated the success of more than 14,000 college graduates who otherwise never would have had the opportunity for higher education.

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About DC-CAP

DC College Access Program (DC-CAP) is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping DC students enroll in and graduate from college.

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