SUNY Launches Summer Residential Pilot for First-Gen Students


As seen on North Country Now

Albany – State University of New York Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson announced the launch of a summer residential pilot program for select first-generation New York City high school students sponsored by the Heckscher Foundation for Children. The three-week program to be held at University at Albany and SUNY Potsdam are designed to help prepare rising high school juniors and seniors for their transition to college at no cost and will provide students with a pre-college experience including skills training, college credits, and career exploration. About 50 students will be able to participate in the pilot.

“SUNY was founded to provide access to high-quality educational opportunities to all learners, and in doing so we also encourage students to enroll and prepare them to succeed, which is exactly what this pilot program sets out to do for high school students who will be the first in their families to attend college,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “My thanks to the Heckscher Foundation for supporting this critical work, and to the University at Albany and SUNY Potsdam for being the first SUNY campuses to participate.”

According to a 2018 study by the U.S. Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics, one-third of first-generation students dropped out of college after three years as compared with 14 percent of students whose parents earned a degree. The summer residential programs at University at Albany and SUNY Potsdam are designed to help acclimate students and prepare them for a college experience and will help build the confidence and skills necessary for degree completion. The program also sets to eliminate financial hurdles by providing the experience at no cost, and students will receive room and meals, transportation, and a $500 stipend.

“Living on a college campus for part of a summer prepares high school students for the college transition—but it is an expensive experience reserved for affluent and some selected families,” said Peter Sloane, Chairman and CEO of the Heckscher Foundation for Children. “In keeping with our venture philanthropy approach to grantmaking, this project enables underserved students, at no cost to them, to also experience exposure to campus life and college-level work, to obtain credits towards a degree, and, ultimately, to be better prepared to attend and succeed in college.”

The University at Albany and SUNY Potsdam will design, host, and provide all program components, including housing, meals, faculty, and materials, among others. At UAlbany, the program will be held from July 14 to August 2, 2019. At SUNY Potsdam, students will participate from July 6 through July 27, 2019.

“UAlbany is very proud to offer these students an opportunity to experience all our campus has to offer through our new program, Project Achieve,” said University at Albany President Havidán Rodríguez. “As a first-generation college student myself, I can appreciate the impact a pre-college immersion program can have. The opportunity to take a class, meet with faculty, socialize with other students, and immerse yourself in a college environment will no doubt assist this cohort of students as they make their college selections and then acclimate to college life. We look forward to welcoming these future college students and to having them on our beautiful and exciting campus. This is exactly the type of activity that we would like to scale up in the future. We sincerely thank the Heckscher Foundation for Children and the SUNY Impact Fund for their partnership and for making this type of program available.”

“We are grateful for the opportunity provided by the Heckscher Foundation to welcome 24 students to SUNY Potsdam’s ‘Learning U: Applied Learning Academy’ summer residential program,” said SUNY Potsdam President Kristin G. Esterberg. “SUNY Potsdam has a long and successful history in both applied learning and student success. This program will allow students to explore different career paths, gain skills needed to be successful in college, and participate in a range of applied learning activities, while surrounded by a strong support system.”

Program participants must attend a public high school in one of the five boroughs of New York City and demonstrate, through their application, the ambition to pursue a college education. Other requirements include a minimum grade point average of a B, sufficient credits to graduate on time, and nomination by the student’s high school. Each individual SUNY school identified program participants.

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