In mid-January, University of Arkansas-Fayetteville Chancellor David Gearhart attended a White House Summit focused on helping low-income students attend college. UA-Fayetteville became the only school in Arkansas to sign on to President Obama’s plan to (1) connect low-income students to the right colleges and helping them graduate, (2) increase early intervention to increase college readiness, and (3) ensure that low-income students are prepared for the SAT/ACT.
According to Gearhart, the UA has made and is in the process of developing several programs to help low-income students be successful, including:
- Expanded Summer Bridge Program: a six-week summer program that will allow freshmen to take two credit-bearing classes while adjusting to college life/learning
- Academic Enrichment Program: provides academic support through tutoring, workshops, early intervention advising, peer and faculty mentoring and experiential learning opportunities
- ACT Academy: A five-day residential summer program designed to prepare students for the ACT and applying for college
- Targeted University Perspectives Course: a freshman course focusing on the special concerns of first-generation and low-income students
- iBridge: a two-week academic program for freshmen which offers an intensive orientation to college-level literacy and STEM courses
- Engineering Career Awareness Program: a transitional program that provides gap funding support and uses rigorous academic retention strategies for each year’s group of incoming freshmen
- Commitment to College Completion Program: a pilot program that will provide first generation and low-income Arkansas students with mentoring and financial resources to help pay for college as well as give them opportunities for study abroad.
MEANWHILE …. in Southern Arkansas …
During that same week in January, the OEP’s Jennifer Ash and Gary Ritter had the pleasure of meeting many excellent educators from El Dorado to learn more about the very exciting El Dorado Promise Scholarship Program. The Promise, as it is known in El Dorado, was born in January 2007 and thus celebrated its 7th “birthday” last month! This program may be one of the most innovative and exciting programs that is opening up college access for Arkansas youth.
In case you are not familiar with the El Dorado Promise Program, it is a unique scholarship program established and funded by the Murphy Oil Corporation and modeled after the Kalamazoo Promise, developed several years ago in Western Michigan. The El Dorado Promise provides every high school graduate of the El Dorado High School with a college scholarship to any accredited two-year or four-year, public or private educational institution in the U.S. The maximum amount payable is up to the highest annual resident tuition at an Arkansas public university. El Dorado Promise recently released its 2014 report, which marks its 7th anniversary.
Lately, El Dorado Promise has attracted national attention for its unique efforts to ensure low income students’ postsecondary opportunities. Read more in the following article in American Airlines magazine, The Promised Land. Following El Dorado’s lead, other programs are popping up around the state as well, such as Arkadelphia Promise.
We at the OEP are very excited about El Dorado Promise and think it is a much smarter direction to take than Scott’s Tots. The Office fans, anyone?