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News Release

For immediate use 

UNC joins $27 million partnership with Jack Kent Cooke Foundation;
N.C. community colleges to help students transfer through new program

Carolina is among eight colleges and universities to join the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation in a $27 million partnership to help more community college students earn bachelorís degrees from selective four-year institutions.

UNC will receive nearly $900,000 as a result of the partnership, the largest ever created to give these students access to leading U.S. colleges and universities.

Carolina and the other campuses will join the foundation to build model programs that enable academically qualified low- to moderate-income community college students to transfer to selective schools in unprecedented numbers. The other seven schools are Amherst and Mount Holyoke colleges, Bucknell and Cornell universities, and the universities of California at Berkeley, Michigan at Ann Arbor and Southern California.

UNCís efforts will focus on admitting and graduating transfer students from three area community colleges: Durham Technical Community College in Durham, Alamance Community College in Burlington and Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh.

"Weíre honored to be working with Jack Kent Cooke and with our neighbors in these three community colleges," said Stephen Farmer, assistant provost and director of undergraduate admissions at UNC. "This grant will help more low- to moderate-income students find their way to Carolina. Just as important, it will help them succeed once they get here."

Dr. Thomas Gould, assistant dean in University Transfer at Durham Technical Community College, echoed that sentiment.

"Durham Technical Community College is proud and excited to partner with the university in this important program," Gould said. "This innovative initiative demonstrates the commitment of both institutions to the academic success of all citizens in our community. It also epitomizes the increasingly close working relationship between the community college and university systems in our state."

To establish a four-year pilot for the initiative, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is awarding grants worth $6.7 million to the eight partner institutions. The recipients are, in turn, committing $20.3 million in financial aid and other resources to expand or develop community college transfer programs that reach out to and support transfer students.

UNC will receive $898,789 from the foundation and contribute $2.3 million to the cause. The resulting partnership will create the Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program (C-STEP). C-STEP will identify talented low- to moderate-income students while they are still in high school or early in their community college careers and guarantee their eventual transfer admission to UNC if they earn an associate degree and complete the C-STEP program at a partner college.

The program also will offer special events and advising, both at the studentsí home college and at UNC, while they are pursuing their associate degrees, as well as provide exemplary financial aid and support services once they have enrolled at UNC and are pursuing their bachelorís degrees. Qualifying students will be served by the Carolina Covenant, which enables students from low-income families to graduate from UNC debt-free through a combination of grants, scholarships and federal work study.

By the end of the four-year pilot, at least 225 students will be participating at UNC and at the three partner colleges. The program aims not just to admit these students to UNC, but to provide the transition and support services to help them graduate on time.

"Our program is grounded in the principle that admission alone is a false promise unless it leads to excellence," Farmer said. "Getting admitted is important, but itís not nearly as important as graduating. We think C-STEP will help us admit and enroll more community college transfers, and we hope it will serve as a national model for other selective universities."

Last year, UNC enrolled 157 community college transfer students, including 79 from Durham Technical Community College, Alamance Community College and Wake Technical Community College. By the end of the grant's four-year term, C-STEP will serve 225 students and enrolling at Carolina at least 35 more junior transfers each year as a result of the program.

The partnership with the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation addresses several trends affecting higher educationís efforts to provide opportunities for outstanding students, regardless of socioeconomic status, to earn a four-year degree. Among those is that selective four-year institutions typically focus recruitment on high school graduates. And yet, research shows, the more selective the institution, the more likely a community college transfer student enrolled there is to graduate with a four-year degree, particularly if the student comes from a low socioeconomic background.

The foundation chose the eight institutions participating in the initiative following a national call for proposals to Americaís 127 most selective colleges and universities. Forty-eight institutions submitted proposals. This June, the foundation will host a national conference focused on strategies to increase the number of low-income community college students that transfer to selective four-year schools.

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 foundationís programs include the largest scholarships nationwide for community college transfer students, scholarships to graduate and high school students, and grants to organizations that serve high-achieving students with financial need. See for more information.

The foundationís gift counts toward the Carolina First Campaign, a comprehensive, multi-year private fund-raising campaign with a goal of $2 billion to support Carolinaís vision of becoming the nationís leading public university.

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