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March 21, 2007
Contact: Molly de Ramel
(401) 863-2476

Jack Kent Cooke Foundation
$1M Grant Establishes College Advising Corps in Rhode Island

A $1-million grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation will establish the College Advising Corps, a partnership among Brown University, Rhode Island public schools, and community organizations as part of a nationwide initiative aimed at increasing college enrollment and graduation among low-income high school and community college students. Through this program, the University’s Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service will recruit and train current students and recent college graduates to work as advisers in the schools.

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation today awarded Brown University a $1-million grant to establish the College Advising Corps, based at the University’s Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service. The award is part of a $10-million nationwide initiative aimed at significantly increasing college enrollment and graduation among low-income high school and community college students.

The initiative will expand existing college-access programs at the Swearer Center by strengthening its current program of student volunteer college advisers and recruiting and training college seniors to work full time as advisers for one or two years following graduation. The advisers will provide guidance for approximately 1,000 students in up to 13 high schools statewide, helping students apply to a wide range of postsecondary institutions that fit their individual academic profiles, career goals and personal circumstances.

“Many organizations and the public schools have been working hard to make a college education more accessible, but the opportunity still remains out of reach for far too many students in this state,” said Roger Nozaki, director of the Swearer Center and an associate dean of the College. “This grant allows us to partner with those schools and organizations to expand the resources available to hundreds of Rhode Island students – particularly those who would be first-generation college students – and ensure they have the information and support they need to succeed.”

The goal of the foundation’s initiative is to reduce the rate of college-qualified, low-income high school graduates who fail to earn bachelor’s degrees, by providing college admission and financial aid guidance to disadvantaged students. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that 4 million potential college degree recipients have been “lost” during the last two decades. As the foundation’s research reveals, many of America’s top-performing, lower-income students are among those “lost” degree recipients.

“We are squandering a huge national resource when millions of America’s best high school graduates never get to college,” said Matthew J. Quinn, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “Our foundation is committed to addressing the college enrollment gap by providing crucial information to promising students facing financial barriers.”

Lack of information about admissions and financial aid is a significant barrier to college for low-income students – who are much less likely than their counterparts in wealthier communities to have access to SAT preparation, college application guidance, and information about financial aid. On average there is only one high school counselor for every 488 American public high school students.

The groundbreaking “College Guide” program, which was funded by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation at the University of Virginia and serves as the model for its initiative, places recent college graduates in communities where college-going rates are below the state average, to help students plan for and complete the college application process. This program was recently expanded to include counseling for community college students interested in transferring to four-year institutions. Recent Jack Kent Cooke Foundation-funded research also underscores the importance of personal transfer counseling for low-income students who attend community college and the need to increase transfer advising on community college campuses.

“This innovative approach has succeeded in Virginia with notable increases in applications to colleges in high schools where the guides work,” said Josh Wyner, vice president of programs for the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “At one Virginia high school, we saw a 23-percent jump in the college admissions acceptance rate.”

“Now low-income students in Rhode Island will get access to much-needed guidance from a larger number of mentors who can inspire them to reach farther,” he added.

The other grant recipients are Franklin and Marshall College, Loyola College in Maryland, Pennsylvania State University, Tufts University, the University of Alabama, the University of California–Berkeley, the University of Missouri, the University of North Carolina– Chapel Hill and the University of Utah. The University of North Carolina– Chapel Hill, in partnership with the National College Access Network, will also create a National College Advisory Corps Coordinating Office to support the development of the grants and encourage other universities to start similar programs.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private, independent foundation established in 2000 by the estate of Jack Kent Cooke to help young people of exceptional promise reach their full potential through education. It focuses in particular on students with financial need. The foundation’s programs include scholarships to undergraduate, graduate and high school students, and grants to organizations that serve high-achieving students with financial need.

The Howard R. Swearer Center for Public Service

The Swearer Center works to connect the capacities of the University and community to address inequalities in our society and communities; to create, share, and apply knowledge for the public good; and to educate and prepare students for lives of effective action. For more information, visit

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