The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Announces Results of a Five-Year Study of Community College Transfers to Nation's Most Selective Colleges

Sep 16, 2010, 09:00 ET from The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation today released the results of Partnerships that Promote Success: The Evaluation of the Community College Transfer Initiative – a study of successful programs and policies that encourage talented lower-income community college students to transfer to the nation's most selective institutions. An evaluation of the Foundation's Community College Transfer Initiative (CCTI) identified effective practices to recognize high-achieving lower-income students in community colleges and improve their transfer experience to increase the likelihood of success, both personally and academically. These effective practices recognized in the study have the potential to be replicated on a national scale by the country's best four-year institutions.

All eight colleges and universities participating in the CCTI improved their ability to recruit qualified students and support their success. The study revealed that over a period of three years, the institutions enrolled nearly 2,000 additional lower-income community college students, far exceeding the goals of the initiative. Among the CCTI students surveyed, 41 percent were the first in their family to attend a four-year college and many of them would not have considered attending a selective institution without the encouragement of CCTI programs. The CCTI programs and practices also enhanced transfer students' readiness for academic and social success, facilitating their smooth transition into highly selective colleges and universities.

"Talented community college students can thrive at highly selective institutions if assisted with admissions and financial aid applications as well as orientation and academic support" said Emily Froimson, Director of Higher Education Programs at the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. "The CCTI has demonstrated that there are exceptional lower-income students in community colleges capable of succeeding at the nation's best four-year institutions and that their partnerships with community colleges can identify these students and ensure their success".

The study, Partnerships that Promote Success, demonstrates that not only do the community college transfer students benefit from their enrollment at the top colleges, but that the CCTI benefited campuses, with community college transfer students increasing diversity, making intellectual contributions to the classrooms, and becoming deeply engaged on campus. The CCTI also promoted improved collaboration and communication among schools, departments, and administrative offices.

"Many talented community college students from low-income families would not consider applying to a selective four-year college or university without encouragement and support," concluded Dr. Cathy Burack, a Senior Fellow at Brandeis University Center for Youth and Communities and a Senior Researcher of the report. "The CCTI truly transforms their lives. It offers an opportunity to students whose talents might have otherwise gone unrecognized to reach their potential and set examples for other low-income, first-generation community college students."

Over the last five years, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation has partnered with and provided funding to eight highly selective colleges and universities, promoting programs that exemplify excellence and equity. Participating institutions collaborated with local community colleges to develop sustainable pathways for exceptional students to gain an otherwise unattainable education. Coordinators worked with prospective transfers to advise on transfer admission options and financial aid and offer orientation, tutoring, and other support mechanisms for newly transferred community college students. The report observed the importance of the CCTI programs to both the students and the campuses they attend. The students, particularly those from lower and moderate-income families were found to make significant contributions, such as becoming peer mentors and transfer ambassadors to potential transfer applicants.

Since 2006, the CCTI campuses have also addressed the issue of awarding credit for community college courses. And, in a conclusion that may have institutional and policy implications, the study additionally found that developing processes and systems to increase transparency and flexibility between institutions, along with a willingness to negotiate, were often more effective than formal articulation agreements and strict policies. Most colleges and universities additionally found that the credit transfer process had become smoother since their participation in the Community College Transfer Initiative.

About the Community College Transfer Initiative

In 2005, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation launched the Community College Transfer Initiative to promote sustainable, long-term increases in the number of high-achieving community college students from low-income families transferring to the nation's selective four-year institutions. To accomplish this goal, the Foundation awarded grants totaling approximately $7 million over four years to eight highly selective four-year institutions: Amherst College, Bucknell University, Cornell University, Mount Holyoke College, The University of California - Berkeley, The University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and The University of Southern California.

About the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private foundation dedicated to helping young people of exceptional promise reach their full potential through education.  The Foundation provides challenging opportunities to high achievers from lower-income families through its Young Scholars Program, generous scholarships for undergraduate and graduate study, and grants to nonprofit organizations and educational institutions.

SOURCE The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation