NEW BRUNSWICK – Academic leadership from Rutgers University and around the country joined President Obama in Washington, D.C. on Thursday for the 2nd Annual White House College Opportunity Day of Action, focusing attention on college access, completion and readiness, areas Rutgers has deeply invested in for many years.
Rutgers senior leaders including Camden Chancellor Phoebe Haddon, Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor and Courtney McAnuff, university vice president of enrollment management, also joined the First Lady, Vice President Biden, hundreds of leaders of America’s college and universities, and thousands from the nation’s business and nonprofit sectors. The event highlighted the president’s goal of becoming the world leader in college degree attainment by better preparing high school students to succeed in college – and through identifying and encouraging students of diverse backgrounds to enter STEM programs (STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
“At Rutgers, increasing opportunities for all students, and particularly those of diverse backgrounds, is something we strongly believe in and advance,” Rutgers University President Robert L. Barchi said.
The event focused on commitments in four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness, investing in high school counselors; and increasing the number of college graduates in the STEM fields.
The White House gathering provided a unique opportunity to showcase the programs across the university that are committed to advances in each of these areas. Rutgers’ programs are fostering the next generation of college graduates who also will be the first generation of college graduates in their families, particularly those whose hometowns host Rutgers’ campuses in Newark and Camden, New Brunswick and Piscataway.
Rutgers University-Newark is committed to significantly increasing educational attainment by partnering in, and providing the coordinating hub for, the Newark City of Learning Collaborative (NCLC), an inclusive organization of more than 60 entities dedicated to increasing the number of Newark residents with postsecondary degrees. NCLC is specifically focused on increasing its enrollment of Newark residents to 10% and 17% among first-year and transfer students, respectively, at Rutgers University Newark.
“Newark is a city where all of the great challenges facing our relentlessly urbanizing nation can be found, as well as all of the assets to take on those challenges,” Rutgers University-Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor said, in pointing to the reasons why NCLC’s efforts resonate powerfully with the President’s national agenda. “Our greatest asset is the people of Newark, who are an incredibly diverse and incredibly deep and broad talent pool. NCLC is designed to tap that talent pool to its fullest so Newark can thrive – and that is critical because if cities like Newark don’t thrive, our nation won’t thrive.”
Rutgers University-Camden is increasing college access and success outcomes through the Camden City College Access Network, a broad coalition that seeks to leverage the expertise of all involved, which includes the Camden City School District and Camden County College. Creating a common agenda focused on nurturing a college-going culture that addresses college readiness and completion in city schools is the network’s primary goal.
“Providing wide access to college, and preparing students for success in college, is of critical importance to a diverse and effective citizenry. Rutgers University-Camden is proud to be part of this innovative approach to preparing Camden children and teens for success in college and in life,” Rutgers University-Camden Chancellor Phoebe Haddon said. “We were honored to be invited to The White House to represent southern New Jersey and the City of Camden, and we look forward to working together to move forward the Camden City College Access Network to clear the pathway to higher education for students in the Camden City School District.”
Like these two collaborations, Rutgers Future Scholars (RFS) seeks to increase the number of academically promising, first-year students from Camden, New Brunswick and Piscataway, and Newark that attend Rutgers University and college generally. Each year, RFS invites 200 first-generation, at-risk, low-income rising 8th grade students to become part of a unique precollege preparatory pipeline that includes rigorous academic training and cultural immersion on campus during summer vacation from school.
RFS students participate in sequenced, active, focused, explicit workshops and events. The tutoring and mentoring provided to all Scholars is delivered with the express intention of fostering academic, social and personal development. Recurring themes throughout each year are designed to facilitate all participants’ identity as a Rutgers Future Scholar, fortifying their capacity to confront and master challenge, develop skill sets required by those who score competitively on college entrance exams, and explore career options linked to undergraduate courses of study.
After high school graduation, should these students qualify and elect to attend Rutgers, RFS participants are rewarded by the University with a four-year, tuition-free education.
As of October 2014, RFS is serving approximately 1,000 students in grades 8 through 12; more than 300 RFS scholars are enrolled in college today. RFS recently earned a substantial Charles Stewart Mott Foundation grant to develop a programmatic toolkit and blueprint based on Rutgers University’s work with low-income, first-generation college students.