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DC College Access Program Announces 2050 Moonshot Goal During College Signing Day 2024

Washington, D.C., April 30, 2024 — Today, the DC College Access Program (DC-CAP) was proud to celebrate “College Signing Day 2024” at Capital One Arena, an annual event that marks a significant milestone in the lives of thousands of students from Washington, D.C. and the greater D.C., Maryland, Virginia (DMV) area as they commit to their post-secondary paths. This special event not only celebrates the 25th anniversary of DC-CAP, a nonprofit which helps students prepare for, enroll in and graduate from college, but also serves as the launching platform for an ambitious city-wide 2050 Moonshot Goal, aimed at achieving an 80% college graduation rate among DC students by 2050.

DC-CAP’s CEO Eric Waldo shared, “I am thrilled that leaders across multiple sectors and strata are rallying together around this moonshot goal to end the higher education achievement gap in DC. The students and families in our nation’s capital have incredible gifts and talents–and if we meet them with resources, high standards, high expectations, and a pathway to opportunity—if we truly aim for the moon–this community will rise up. Because all of us have a part to play in ensuring the success of all of our students and building this movement.”

In today’s knowledge-based economy, where a college degree is more crucial than ever, DC-CAP is spearheading this initiative to close the educational achievement gap. By rallying a cross-sector coalition of education, business, philanthropy, government, and non-profit leaders and a growing list of dedicated pledge signers, including a group of college presidents from the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area, DC-CAP is committed to transforming the educational landscape of Washington, D.C. This coalition is supported by multi-year commitments from notable partners, including KPMG, Mainstay, and Sallie Mae, who are integral to making higher education accessible and equitable.

DC-CAP’s programming includes an evidence-based cohort scholarship program with 14 universities. Since the cohort scholarship program’s inception five years ago, DC-CAP’s average student retention rate at partnership schools is 79%, signaling enormous potential and success for D.C. students.

Ted Leonsis, who serves as the Board Chair of DC-CAP, stated, “Like many local DC-CAP students, I too was a first-generation college scholarship recipient – and the first in my family to attend and graduate college in four years – and from D.C.-based Georgetown University. Thanks to college, I was able to become an entrepreneur, and build and sell multiple businesses, as well as build a life of philanthropy. By calling for a moonshot goal for our city, we are telling our young people that anything is possible, and we expect big things from them. But all of us have to come together to make this happen.”

Today’s memorable celebration of students’ aspirations and achievements in education marked the ending of one phase of their lives and the pivot to the next – whether that includes attending four-year universities, associate programs, community colleges, undertaking certificate programs, or joining the military. Incredible luminaries joined in the celebration of these students with Board Chair Ted Leonsis and President and CEO Eric Waldo, including D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee, and Wizards forward Anthony Gill, with special performances by TOB, a Go-Go band, and the Benjamin Banneker Academic Senior High School Cheer team. Throughout the event, students had the opportunity to win additional scholarships and prizes through raffles and were treated to special gifts and entertainment in a lively, festive atmosphere.

“I’m incredibly impressed and excited about this moonshot goal for D.C. Given the education setbacks we are seeing across the country post-COVID, we need leaders doubling down, not lowering their sights. This 2050 goal is exactly what D.C. needs to help rally students, families, elected officials, educators, and the business community forward,” said Arne Duncan, former U.S. Secretary of Education.

DC-CAP continues to build support for this city-wide initiative. Here are the pledge’s supporters to date:

  • Jeremy Blank, U.S. Tax Chief Strategy Officer, Deloitte
  • Katherine Bradley, Founder & Chair, CityBridge
  • Mary Brady, President & CEO, The Economic Club of Washington DC
  • Pat Butler, President & CEO, America’s Public Television Stations
  • Jennifer Byers, President, The Sallie Mae Fund
  • David Canada, Director, Boeing
  • Roberta Cardona, President, Gallaudet University
  • Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director, The Panasonic Foundation
  • Tom Conaghan, Partner, McDermott Will & Emery
  • Tom Davis, Partner, Holland & Knight
  • John J. DeGioia, President, Georgetown University
  • Joe Del Guercio, CEO & President, A. James and Alice B. Clark Foundation
  • Arne Duncan, Former Secretary of Education, U.S. Department of Education
  • Maurice Edington, President, University of the District of Columbia
  • Mark Ein, Chairman & CEO, Venturehouse Group
  • Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee, Chancellor, DCPS
  • Doug Firstenburg, Principal, Stonebridge
  • Andrew Flagel, President & CEO, Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area
  • Gregory Fowler, President, University of Maryland Global Campus
  • Tim Gillis, Office Managing Partner, KPMG
  • Don Graham, Chairman Emeritus, Graham Holdings
  • Ellen Granberg, President, The George Washington University
  • Kimberly Hanauer, Founder & CEO, UnlockED
  • Brad Jenkins, Founder & CEO, Enfranchisement Productions
  • Paul Kihn, Deputy Mayor For Education, Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education
  • Peter Kilpatrick, President, The Catholic University of America
  • Ted Leonsis, Chairman & CEO, Monumental Sports & Entertainment
  • Anthony Lewis, Region Vice President, Verizon
  • Kyle Lierman, President & CEO, Civic Nation
  • Drew Magliozzi, CEO, Mainstay
  • Pinkie Mayfield, Vice President–Corporate Affairs & Chief Communications Officer, Graham Holdings
  • Pat McGuire, President, Trinity Washington University
  • Graham McLaughlin, Executive in Residence, Zeal Capital Partners
  • Chuck Melley, SVP Global Government Relations and Policy, Pearson
  • Antoinette Mitchell, Assistant Superintendent, Office of the State Superintendent of Education
  • Sarah Navarro, Head of Network Success, XQ Institute
  • Jennie Niles, President & CEO, CityWorksDC
  • Eloy Oakley, President & CEO, College Futures Foundation
  • Russ Ramsey, Founder, Chairman & CEO, Ramsey Asset Management
  • Nikki Reid, Partner, KPMG
  • Victor Reinoso, Global Director, Education Philanthropy and Amazon Future Engineer, Amazon
  • Jimmy Sarakatsannis, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company
  • Jim Shelton, Former Deputy Secretary of Education, U.S. Department of Education
  • Tamika Tremaglio, Former Executive Director, NBA Players Association
  • Tonia Wellons, President & CEO, Greater Washington Community Foundation
  • Anita Whitehead, President and Chair, KPMG US Foundation
  • Don Yu, Chief Strategy & Product Officer, Scholarship America

About DC-CAP:

The DC College Access Program (DC-CAP) is a nonprofit organization committed to encouraging and enabling D.C. students to enroll and graduate from college. DC-CAP has worked with students, parents and educational partners for over 20 years to inspire, counsel and provide fundamental support to DC students, the majority of which come from low-income families. DC-CAP continues to achieve its goals of creating an enduring and measurable college-going culture within Washington, DC, assisting in disrupting the cycle of poverty by empowering students and their families to pursue their college education. For more, visit: https://dccap.org/.

For media inquiries, please contact: info@dccap.org

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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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