PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — For high school students, lunch period is often a coveted opportunity to catch up with friends. Yet Omani Cruz — a student at Classical High School in Providence — recalls an abrupt halt to midday chatter when a guest from Brown joined students in the lunchroom on a spring afternoon.
Joi-Danelle Whitehead was there to introduce students to the summer academic programs available to them at Brown University. As part of her role directing diversity, equity, inclusion and access for Brown’s Pre-College Programs, she visits roughly a dozen Providence public schools each year to do the same.
“I remember Joi talking to students and answering questions to explain the Pre-College Program,” Cruz said. “I think it is helpful to have someone here from Brown to speak with one-on-one. Many of my friends applied for Pre-College because they learned about it at school.”
Each summer, Brown’s Pre-College Programs — which celebrate a 40-year milestone this year — welcomes thousands of high school students from around the world to select from eleven different programs where they study at a first-year college level on-campus, at domestic and international sites, in-person and online, introducing them to the opportunities and responsibilities that come with balancing demanding academics and robust outside-of-the-classroom experiences. The wide variety of courses reflect the breadth of Brown's undergraduate curriculum.
In recent years, Brown and the Providence Public School District have partnered with the goal of increasing the number of Providence-area students who participate, and the gains have been significant. Backed by a range of new outreach and support measures — contacting school guidance counselors, collaborating with school leaders to organize classroom and cafeteria talks, waiving application fees and providing more financial aid — the number of Providence-area students attending Brown’s Pre-College Programs each year has grown from roughly a dozen to a peak of 55 students, all of whom have their application fees waived and most of whom receive full scholarships to attend. As a result of the new engagement efforts, more than 200 Providence Public School District students have enrolled in Brown's Pre-College programs to date.