University News

Brown Collegiate Scholars
A letter from the President

By Christina Paxson / January–March 2024
January 22nd, 2024

For decades, Brown has enjoyed a close partnership with Providence public schools, working with school leaders to support K-12 education through teaching, mentoring, research, and volunteer efforts that have a positive long-term impact on the students in the city our University calls home.

Throughout my time at Brown, it’s been wonderful to see this collaboration that is based in Brown’s tradition of education and service continue to evolve. Today, Brown’s engagement with Providence schools includes a vast range of initiatives. This includes working with children in afterschool programs, sharing technology platforms and best practices, and providing direct financial support through the permanent endowment of the Fund for the Education of the Children of Providence.

I’m thrilled to share that in 2024, our partnership with Providence schools will further expand with the launch of the Brown Collegiate Scholars Program, which will prepare and empower students from the city to enter four-year degree programs after high school graduation. The program will begin accepting applications in February. We will welcome an inaugural cohort of approximately 30 eighth-grade students to campus in summer 2024.

Under the leadership of Nick Figueroa, a former chief of family and community engagement for the Providence Public School District, the Collegiate Scholars Program will provide year-round academic and college preparation support to Providence public school district students at no cost to them. Students will receive one-on-one counseling, tutoring, and mentorship led by Brown faculty, staff, and students that will extend throughout their high school years.

In the first two years of the program, students will focus on building good studying, time management, and organizational skills. At the same time, they will receive tailored academic support, leadership development, and social-emotional learning. In the second half of the program, students will receive personalized college counseling, financial aid advising, college entrance exam preparation, and career advising. When scholars are high school juniors and seniors, they’ll be invited to stay on Brown’s campus to experience a residential summer program.

All Providence public school district students will be eligible to apply, with a focus on academically motivated students.

We know that this support matters immensely. Rhode Island Department of Education data show that about 55
percent of public school students in Rhode Island enroll in college immediately after graduation, compared to 63 percent in Boston and 81 percent in New York City. That figure drops to 32 percent for students from Providence. Reasons include college affordability, difficulty navigating the application and financial aid processes, and lack of academic preparation. These challenges are especially pronounced for students from historically underrepresented groups.

The Brown Collegiate Scholars Program, which was developed in close coordination with local school and nonprofit leaders, families, and community partners, is designed to complement the constellation of local college access supports by providing a unique experience based in Brown’s values of student-centered learning. All Providence public school district students will be eligible to apply with a particular focus on academically motivated students who are the first in their families to go to college and/or have limited financial resources.

Our goal is to see Brown Collegiate scholars not only secure college admission but also develop the self-reflection and exploration and determination skills that will enable them to thrive academically and graduate college successfully. That includes everything from understanding how to pick a major to honing techniques for managing stress, understanding how to navigate college culture, and knowing when to ask for help.

Investing in programs that support Providence’s public schools is one of the central pillars of Brown’s community engagement efforts. By empowering students to achieve their college aspirations, we hope to contribute meaningfully to the ecosystem of support that leads to successful lives and thriving careers for the talented young people in Providence.

Read the January–March President’s Spread on the Welcoming Spaces” here (PDF). 

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Related Issue
January–March 2024