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Equipping Leaders to Better Prepare Children & Youth for College, Careers, & Citizenship

About the AHE Network

The Appalachian Regional Commission's (ARC) higher education initiative–the Appalachian Higher Education Network (AHE Network)–has been in operation since 1998. Its mission: to increase post-high school education and training attainment rates in the region.

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About the AHE Network

About the AHE Network

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The AHE Network is a collection of Centers in ten states—Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia—working with high schools, colleges, and career access and success programs that serve high school students and non-traditional adult learners. The ultimate goal: to get the region’s postsecondary education attainment rate on par with the rest of the nation and, in the process, improve the workforce.

During the past five years of operation (2011-2016), the AHE Network opened post-high school education and training doors to 120,904 students in 220 high schools and to 6,699 non-traditional adult students. The 2015 graduates of the participating high schools achieved a post-high school enrollment rate of 63.5%, a rate 9.5 percentage points higher than the reported rate (54%) for students graduating from similarly situated high schools; that is, high schools where half of the students are eligible for free and reduced lunch. Through the AHE Network’s efforts, an additional 11,486 students who were not expected to continue their education beyond high school did so. The nontraditional adult students served had a postsecondary enrollment rate of 52%, a rate on par with the national average for this category of adult students.

Research confirms that intentionally designed activities, practices, and policies can influence the development of postsecondary education-going cultures in predominantly rural schools and rural places and can promote success.  The Centers’ services (see below) help students overcome social, cultural, emotional, and informational barriers to continuing and being successful in their educational endeavors beyond high school.

The AHE Network defines postsecondary or post-high school education and training broadly. Its work prepares students for and supports their participation in: two- or four-year postsecondary education programs, training programs leading to an industry-recognized certificate, or enlisting in the military by the fall following graduation from high school. 

Services Provided by the AHE Network and Resource Centers

Postsecondary Awareness, Access, and Success

  • Visit colleges and universities and technical training programs
  • Postsecondary summits; meet with college students from
    rural areas
  • College fairs
  • Leadership training; résumé development
  • ACT preparation

Career Decision Information

  • Visits to industry and business; meet with staff and leaders
  • Exploration of area job market, career paths, and academic requirements
  • Career coaching; career fairs
  • Interview training
  • Business etiquette introduction

Professional Development for School Administrators, Teachers, and Counselors

  • Mathematics preparedness; ACT and content-specific
  • Training on noncognitive factors that have an impact on achievement
  • Data usage training
  • Formative assessment training
  • Making connections with postsecondary staff to confirm expectations and align course material

Support for Families on Navigating Postsecondary Processes

  • Informational meetings with families and students; emphasis on why postsecondary education is important
  • FAFSA training and assistance
  • Scholarship searches
  • Help with college applications
  • College matching

Email Us: ahen@iel.orgFollow us on Twitter: @AppalachianNetw

Find the Centers' Contact Information.

Learn More About Each Center's Work