- The New York Times profiles the Honors Living-Learning Community at the Rutgers University-Newark campus, which offers a predominant number of its participants scholarships, academic and social support and job training in spite of lower academic scores than the average student entering the institution.
- According to the Times, 40% of the enrollees are community college graduates, while the same percentage are first-generation college students. Three out of every four students in the program are Pell Grant eligible, and most students are from Newark or surrounding areas.
- The program is an extension of the Newark campus' track record of success in admitting city residents, a group whose enrollment has increased by 60% since 2014. The urban campus in 2016 created a program to guarantee full-tuition scholarships to local high school and community college graduates from households earning less than $60,000.
Rutgers' Newark campus finds success in recruiting and retaining low-income students from under-resourced school districts and homes, because that is what the talent pool in their immediate area requires. And the system appears to concede that the campus' brand can sustain this mission given the realities of Newark's economy and the challenges that may be presented by pursuing higher outcomes in entering student credentials and post-graduation outcomes.
Rutgers can do this because its system campuses allow for diverse approaches to research, diversity, admissions and industrial pairing beyond the demands of one area seeking to revitalize its profile. And perhaps this is a model other systems can follow, much in the way that the University of California System has built a brand around high outcomes for racially diverse student groups. UC campuses claim seven of the top 10 spots for public institutions with the best graduation rates for Pell Grant recipients according to a recent study by Third Way, and achieve the goal through early intervention and college preparation programs beginning in area high schools.
Committing institutions to social good can yield strong economic outcomes as well. Fresno Pacific University's student body is largely comprised of first-generation students from households earning less than $40,000 annually, but is part of an independent college network in California that generates more than $26 billion in economic impact.