by Angelina Jarrouj
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation recently announced a $250,000 award to support ADVANCE and the Early Identification Program (EIP)—two transformational programs at George Mason University that are creating unprecedented educational access to diverse student populations. Consistent with the foundation’s core mission, this grant funding will ensure the success of exceptionally promising students with financial need who are enrolled in these programs.
ADVANCE, Mason’s innovative partnership with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), currently enrolls almost 700 students, providing them with robust student support and seamless pathways to timely and cost-efficient completion of a four-year degree. As students transition to Mason, however, higher tuition rates often impact their persistence and lead them to abandon their goals. The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is providing $150,000 in scholarships to alleviate some of these financial burdens for a number of high-achieving students with financial need. These scholarships will make the students’ cost of attaining a bachelor’s degree equivalent to the cost of attending a community college for four years.
“At a time when our economy needs more educated workers, the ADVANCE Program offers real solutions by helping more students complete their bachelor’s degrees with extra coaching and support,” said Michelle Marks, vice president for academic innovation and new ventures. “These scholarships will help level the playing field for students from low income backgrounds by making college affordable. We’re grateful that the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is helping to ensure that these students will be able to cross the finish line and achieve their goals.”
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is also keen on closing the excellence gap by ensuring that talented students with financial need have early access to quality academic experiences. As such, it is providing $100,000 in funding to EIP, Mason’s college-access program that provides year-long resources to middle and high school students who are the first in their families to attend college. This grant will enable more EIP students to attend Mason’s Honors College and gain access to a student-centered environment where intellectual challenge and personal support contribute to their growth, development and success.
“The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation’s support of EIP will enable us to offer more opportunities to build college-preparedness skills for our first-generation students,” said Rose Pascarell, vice president for University Life. “EIP’s robust, multi-year support continues to be transformational in helping high-achieving students with financial need fulfill their dream of attending college, as 95% of EIP seniors graduating high school matriculate at postsecondary institutions, with the majority of students attending Mason and other selective institutions.”