Rutgers University head football coach Greg Schiano announced that the Schiano Family Foundation has pledged $250,000 to the Rutgers Future Scholars program, an ambitious initiative created to help promising youth from low-income and less-advantaged communities successfully matriculate through high school and college.
“We were attracted to the core values of the Rutgers Future Scholars program and the tremendous impact it has already had on the lives of so many young people and their families,” Schiano said. “This is a program that not only leads kids to develop new skills but also lets them know that there are adults who are committed to their success and have high expectations of them as well.”
The initiative began four years ago after Rutgers leaders noted that fewer and fewer students from the neighborhoods surrounding the state university’s urban campuses were getting admitted to their hometown college. Most didn’t apply or failed to earn the grades or SAT scores to qualify, or they simply didn't think college was an option.
Rutgers Future Scholars formally launched in September 2007, when 200 seventh grade students -- 50 each from New Brunswick, Piscataway, Newark, and Camden – were selected for intense academic support and mentoring. Today there are 800 Rutgers Future Scholars enrolled in the program. If the scholars successfully complete the pre-college part of the program, keep up their grades, and earn admission into Rutgers, they will be eligible for a full scholarship covering tuition and fees.
Schiano made his announcement in the Assembly Room of Winants Hall last week on the College Avenue Campus, where he sat down for an informal discussion with about 15 of the Rutgers Future Scholars, ranging from the Class of 2020, newly selected rising eighth-graders to the Class of 2017, rising juniors who recently finished the summer internship component of the program.
He listened as the scholars shared their dreams of becoming doctors, teachers, actors, marines, engineers, auditors, basketball players and more. Schiano told the young scholars that it’s important to keep your goals front and center and to make priorities in your life, something he reiterates every day to his own four children at home – and to his football players.
“Just remember that every knock in life makes you stronger. Use it as fuel, don’t doubt yourself and let it make you stronger,” Schiano said. “You have a choice of what you want to do in life. You’re making it happen by being a part of this program. You are this program.”
Jason Gaines, a young scholar who will be a junior this fall at New Brunswick High School and who is interning with Judge Vincent LeBlon at the Superior Court of Middlesex County, told Coach Schiano that the Rutgers Future Scholars program has given him strength.
“It has offered me the opportunity to excel professionally and socially and has made me want to work harder than I ever have before in life,” Gaines said.
“Coach Schiano is committed to the success of young people both on and off the field,” said Aramis Gutierrez, who has directed the Rutgers Future Scholars program since March of 2008. “Coach has been involved in a number of other charitable organizations and this gift to our program is just another example of how much he and his family really care. We are so thankful for their support.”
Coach Schiano acknowledged the challenges that the scholars face and advised them to keep plugging away at the big picture.
“Keep at it,” he told them. “Don’t ever sacrifice what you want in the long term for what you want right now. And to be sure to enjoy your journey and the relationships you form along the way.”
So far, the Rutgers Future Scholar program has raised $2.5 million in donations and pledges.
The Schianos’ gift is part of the university's seven-year,$1 billion initiative, “,” which focuses on meeting the university’s most pressing academic and financial needs.
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