Miami Dade College Homepage > MDC in the News

Massachusetts Nonprofit Makes a Splash on the National Education Scene with New Location in Miami at Miami Dade College

Growth prompts ACCESS to change name to UAspire

Miami, May 2, 2012 - ACCESS, a not-for-profit group based in Boston, Mass. that provides financial aid guidance and information to thousands of students in every public and charter high school in Boston, Springfield and Lawrence, is headed to the Sunshine State to open its first location outside of Massachusetts, and is changing its name to UAspire.

UAspire’s main Miami office is being generously housed on the Wolfson Campus of Miami Dade College (MDC), the nation’s largest campus-based institution of higher education, and Miami-Dade County Public Schools (MDCPS). UAspire wants to ensure Miami’s students have a solid plan to finance their higher education. Trained UAspire financial aid advisors will be placed in five Miami area high schools, listed below, to work one-on-one with graduating seniors. With seed funding coming from the Kresge Foundation, UAspire will expand in Miami starting in September 2012. In its first year of programming, UAspire will serve more than 2,000 graduating high school seniors in Miami-Dade County.

 “This is an extraordinary opportunity for us to help the students of South Florida get into and pay for college,” said UAspire chief executive officer Bob Giannino-Racine. “Miami rose to the top of our short list due to a clear interest from Miami Dade College and local community leaders in wanting to partner in our work and support our launch and success.”

MDC has provided UAspire with in-kind office space and other resources to support its services across Miami-Dade County.

Giannino-Racine said UAspire has hit the ground running in Miami thanks to the hiring of Keith “Fletch” Fletcher as its Miami executive director. Fletcher has deep roots in the Florida education community having served in leadership roles at other major area universities.

“UAspire will create an immediate impact within its first year of operations in Miami,” stated Fletcher. “We are filling a real need here. By replicating the success that UAspire has had in Massachusetts, we are going to change thousands of lives for the better.”

Founded in 1985, UAspire has been a pioneer in addressing issues of college affordability, providing financial aid advisement and opening doors to higher education and economic opportunity for generations. Since 2005, UAspire has grown rapidly reaching 4,000 students annually. In the past five years, UAspire has leveraged $220 million in financial aid – $62 million in 2011 alone.

“We are extremely proud of the number of students we have reached and impacted during our 27 year history in Massachusetts,” added Giannino-Racine. “When we started, our goal was to get students into college. Now, we are committed to making sure these students graduate. This new mission has prompted us to change our name; a name that lets students, parents, educators, and funders know we are dedicated not just to access, but to each student’s success. The new name we decided on that accurately describes our future goals is UAspire.”

With student success at the heart of MDC’s mission to change lives through the opportunity of education, the college’s partnership with UAspire dovetails with its ambitious college readiness and completion project, MDC3, which has involved the entire college community in developing an integrated set of policies and procedures to significantly improve graduation rates.

“Expanding access to higher education and increasing college graduation rates are national imperatives,” said Dr. Rolando Montoya, provost of Miami Dade College. “With UAspire, we will expand our reach significantly and we are so excited to have them on campus.”

UAspire Miami-Dade County Partner High Schools:

American Senior High School

John A. Ferguson Senior High School

Miami Lakes Educational Center

Miami Southridge High School

Miami Sunset Senior High School

About UAspire

UAspire is Massachusetts’ leading provider of financial aid advising and scholarships and has provided financial aid advising and scholarships to more than 50,000 students since 1985, helping them realize their higher education goals and giving them a better foundation for a successful and productive future. Last year alone, UAspire helped graduating high school seniors secure more than $57.2 million in financial aid – showing a return on investment of $61 in aid secured for every $1 invested in its advising program. UAspire services are provided free of charge and serve students from every public high school and beyond and every neighborhood in Boston, Springfield and Lawrence. For more information, please visit

About Miami Dade College

Miami Dade College is the nation’s largest institution of higher education with an enrollment of more than 175,000 students. It is also the nation’s top producer of Associate in Arts and Science degrees and awards more degrees to minorities than any other college or university in America. The college’s seven campuses and two centers offer more than 300 distinct degree programs including several baccalaureate degrees in education, public safety, supervision and management, nursing, physician assistant studies, film, engineering, biology and others. In fact, its academic and workforce training programs are national models of excellence. MDC is also renowned for its rich cultural programming. It is home of the Miami Book Fair International, Miami International Film Festival, the MDC Live! Performing Arts Series, the National Historic Landmark Miami Freedom Tower, a sculpture park and a large art gallery and theater system. MDC has served nearly 2,000,000 students since it opened its doors in 1960.

For more information, please visit

Media-only contacts:
Juan Mendieta, 305-237-7611,, MDC communications director
Tere Estorino Florin, 305-237-3949,, MDC media relations director
Sue Arrowsmith, 305-237-3710,, media specialist
Alejandro Rios, 305-237-7482,
Tarnell Carroll, 305-237-3359,, media specialist
UAspire media contact Melissa Simas Tyler, 857-222-8049,

Miami Dade College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate and baccalaureate degrees.
Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Miami Dade College.
Miami Dade College is an equal access/equal opportunity institution and does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, marital status, age, religion, national origin,
ethnicity, pregnancy, disability, veteran's status, sexual orientation, or genetic information.
Contact the Office of Director, Equal Opportunity Programs, ADA and Title IX Coordinator, at 305.237.2577 for assistance.