There are several parallels between Friendship Collegiate Academy in Washington, D.C., and Claflin University.
Both are educational institutions with high expectations. Both are visionary in their mission. Both are committed to seeing students excel and earn a college degree. As a result, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed during the Claflin University International Alumni Association Recruitment Reception, formalizing a partnership to ensure student success in college.
“There is a reason we are here today signing this MOU,” Claflin University President Dr. Henry N. Tisdale said. “I like to tell Claflin students to choose your audience carefully, choose your friends carefully and choose your partners carefully. When we look at the mission and vision of Friendship and the mission and vision of Claflin University, we believe that this is a partnership that will continue to excel. The exciting thing about that is this partnership can become a national model in terms of the way students are directed to and through college.”
Friendship Collegiate Academy opened in 2000 and graduated its first class in 2003. Since then, the school has become the largest public charter high school in the nation. Additionally, it has graduated more than 2,000 students – more than any other charter high school in the nation.
“This year, our students, over the past five years, will exceed $55 million in scholarship support that they have received,” Founder and Chairman Donald Hense said. “These students include more than 600 DC Achievers Scholars, three Gates Millennium Scholars and 25 Posse Scholars. One thing that is advantageous about the partnerships we develop is that our students come to the schools with some of the money. It takes resources to go to college.”
Michael Zeigler, director of admissions at Claflin, said the MOU signing formalizes an existing partnership that began with Friendship years ago. Five students from Friendship enrolled in Claflin last year and are excelling and taking on leadership roles.
“We are very excited to formalize this agreement,” he said. “It is a win-win situation for both institutions.”
Ashref Elshazli, Friendship Alumni Affairs coordinator, agrees.
“Claflin fits all of the metrics that we look for in an institution we look to partner with to ensure that our students not only enroll in college, but complete college,” he said.” This partnership is essentially what has already existed at Claflin. We are formalizing a lot of the support and resources that are in place, and opening up the communication between high school and postsecondary education. This will be an open conversation and open support system that we put in place at the high school level that will actually transition into the college level.”
The CUIAA Recruitment Reception is held annually in the host city of the alumni convention. This year’s convention was hosted by the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Alumni Chapter on April 24-27. The convention celebrated “Forty Years on a Fantastic Journey.”
This year, members of the CUIAA had even more than four decades of incorporation to celebrate: They have helped the University achieve a great milestone in alumni giving – a giving percentage of 52.2 percent, which is among the best in the nation.
The Recruitment Reception included prospective students from the Washington Metropolitan Area. Fifteen students from Friendship Academy attended.
“You can’t imagine what it feels like to be me, and to have a goal to get you to college and see you going there,” Hence told his students. “We have told you that you would attend college since you walked in our doors, and now what we’ve told you has come to fruition.”