FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Cara Halstead Cea, Pace University Public Information (914) 906-9680, firstname.lastname@example.org Sadie Slootsky, Director of Development, Groundwork Inc., (718) 346-2200, ext. 127, email@example.com
Upcoming photo ops: Parents and media are invited to opening and closing receptions July 9 and July 26 to meet students, staff and professors.
PACE UNIVERSITY AND BROOKLYN-BASED GROUNDWORK INCORPORATED WIN $240,000 TEAGLE FOUNDATION GRANT FOR FRESH WAYS TO PREPARE INNER CITY YOUTH FOR COLLEGE
Intensive summer writing, college immersion to build on earlier successes for high school students from poverty-stricken East New York neighborhood
NEW YORK, NY, March 30, 2009 – Most high schools in poor and minority neighborhoods simply lack the resources to prepare their students adequately for college.
That’s according to a study recently published in “The Future of Children,” a newsletter from Princeton University and The Brookings Institution.
A fresh approach to that preparation, built around intensive writing classes and immersion in a college atmosphere, will start this summer in new collaboration between the downtown Manhattan campus of Pace University and the Brooklyn-based organization Groundwork Inc.
The three year effort is funded by a $240,000 grant just announced by the Teagle Foundation, which is known for its support of the liberal arts.
The students are from Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood, where 71 percent of children are born into poverty, the highest concentration in the city.
For two full weeks from July 19 to August 1 and in the following two years, up to 80- junior and senior high school students enrolled in Groundwork’s year-round college preparation program will come to Pace for English composition experiences and will join the life on a college campus. They will be mentored by faculty members from the Pace English Department and the downtown unit of the University’s Pforzheimer Honors College, and by Pace undergraduates.
Mainstream, not “special.” In addition, for six to eight hours a day the Brooklyn students will join the college-level classes and activities of high school students from other parts of the US who are studying in the city at Pace’s 11th Annual Summer Scholars Institute.
Follow-up Saturday sessions at Pace during the academic year will build on the Brooklyn students’ summer skills.
The program is unusual because it “draws in the academic mainstream,” according to Cheryl Ching, the Teagle program officer responsible for the grant. “Colleges and universities have offered many outreach programs to help underserved populations and improve their college access, but these have tended to exist on the fringes, not involving mainline academic departments but rather special admissions and financial aid arrangements or volunteer work.”
She continued: “Because Pace and Groundwork are involving the English Department and the Honors College, we think this initiative will demonstrate how to build an academic bridge to scholarly departments, making college access and graduation for these students more central to the mission of the university.”
The new “Groundwork Summer Institutes” will take place at Pace’s campus near the Brooklyn bridge between City Hall and the South Street Seaport.
Holding their own. The program draws on Pace’s experience with its own students, who come from varied backgrounds, and on the experiences of a small number of inner-city Summer Scholars sent to Pace in previous years by Groundwork and similar youth organizations in Miami and Chicago.
“These kids have come and held their own in the program, and they have made new friends from places they never thought possible,” says Christopher Malone, a Pace political scientist who also directs the downtown honors program. “The academic benefits are significant; but the social benefits are equally significant. A big part of the university experience is the bonds that are created among young adults and have a significant impact on the educational process.”
“Sitting in classes, hanging out at dinner or in the dorm rooms with people who are not like you makes for a robust educational experience.”
Freedom to hear. Malone adds: “The Supreme Court, in the Bakke decision of 1978, said that in the university setting, diversity is a compelling government interest because of our First Amendment rights: the other side of freedom of speech is the ‘freedom to hear’ different views. This is the promise of the court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision, and that promise is really what this is about.”
Pace undergraduates will serve as teaching assistants for the Groundwork Summer Institute classes and as assistants in the residences, and will continue to mentor the Groundwork students throughout the year.
“Young people in communities like East New York rarely get the same opportunities as youth in other communities,” said Richard R. Buery Jr., Co-Founder and Executive Director of Groundwork. “Groundwork’s collaboration with Pace University will open the eyes of 80 high school students each year to what is possible for themselves if they work hard and invest in their futures.”
He continued, “I applaud the Teagle Foundation for supporting initiatives that connect young people in urban communities to colleges. And we are especially excited to work with Pace, a university that has demonstrated its commitment and responsibility to the community.”
Too demanding? “The funding from Teagle gives us a unique opportunity,” noted Walter Raubicheck, chair of the Pace downtown English department. “We’re bringing together two successful programs to offer inner-city students the tools to graduate from high school on time and go on to a four year college with the skills they need to succeed.
Is graduation from college too demanding a goal for students from communities like East New York? After all, at East New York’s two high schools, the graduation rates are 27 and 31 percent.
By contrast, however, of the students who have graduated from Groundwork’s high school enrichment program so far, 100 percent have earned a high school diploma and 95 percent are enrolled in college. This gives the new collaborators reason for thinking that over the three year grant period:
• Eighty percent of participants will increase their English grades by at least five points in the first year; • Participants will maintain a 100 percent attendance rate for the summer institutes and an 80 percent attendance rate for Saturday institutes; • Ninety percent of participants will increase their college applications; • One hundred percent will successfully graduate from high school; and • One hundred percent of senior participants will successfully defend a “thesis” or senior project in front of a panel of Pace faculty members, students and Groundwork staff.
Each student completing the summer program will receive a letter of recommendation for college from Honors College Director Christopher Malone. To raise expectations, the participants will be asked to include Pace among the colleges to which they apply, and students will know that every Pace applicant will be reviewed for entry into the Pforzheimer Honors College. Students accepted into Pace honors receive a $15,000 scholarship and a laptop computer.
About Groundwork. Founded in 2002, Groundwork assists communities that have high concentrations of youth living in poverty, typically in public housing developments and the blocks that surround them. It now provides services to over 3,000 families living in three areas in the East New York section of Brooklyn. Its intense educational programs include Groundwork for Success, a four-year college preparation, youth employment and leadership program for high school students.
About Pace Summer Scholars. The Pace Summer Scholars Institute is a groundbreaking, intensive 14-day program that allows exceptional high school juniors and seniors to have an early college experience. Each chooses a “major” of two courses, taught by Pace faculty members , that range from Model United Nations to Acting Skills, Legal Studies, Forensic Science, Psychology, The Power of Youth and the Road to the White House, Computer Information Systems, and Business Administration and Management.
In the evenings, students come together for activities and seminars to help them navigate college applications, admissions essays, current events and the culture of New York City. The classroom experience is paired with exploration of the city including Broadway theatre and other events that compliment the majors. Students also mix with Pace staff members, current students, and Summer Scholars alumni from all over the country.
About the Teagle Foundation. The Teagle Foundation is a medium-sized foundation based in New York City with a mission of helping students enjoy the benefits of an intellectually stimulating college education. The foundation has a commitment to promoting and strengthening liberal education and its programs generally encourage collaboration among institutions, seeking to generate new knowledge on issues of importance to higher education. The Foundation was established in 1944 by Walter C. Teagle (1878 – 1962), a longtime president and later chairman of the board of Standard Oil Company (New Jersey), now Exxon Mobil Corporation. www.teaglefoundation.org.
About Pace University. For 103 years Pace University has produced thinking professionals by providing high quality professional education resting on a firm base of liberal learning, amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York, enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, Lienhard School of Nursing, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. www.pace.edu