A new University initiative will aim to prepare Providence public school students to enter selective four-year institutions, in addition to bringing more PPSD students to the University, according a Monday press release from President Christina Paxson P’19 that also included a broader suite of investments in financial aid and access to the University.
Other initiatives announced include removing house equity from aid package calculations, which will eliminate tuition for families earning under $125,000, and moving toward need-blind admissions for international students over the next four years.
Paxson said that the initiative remains in development at the moment, but will likely begin operations next fall with an annual cost of “at least $1 million” — which she looks at “as a minimum.” By May 2022, the University expects to have the “outlines” of the program, with the hopes of bringing in students by fall 2022.
The program, according to the release, will work with community partners to “develop, fund and lead the college-preparation program for students attending public high schools in Providence.” The University is in the process of retaining a consultant who will help develop the program in concert with the Annenberg Institute, the Summer@Brown Program, the Swearer Center, the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice and “external stakeholders.”
Initially, Paxson said, the program will likely start with a smaller cohort, to “assess and see how it’s working,” before growing the number of students involved over time. The program, according to the release, may extend to other parts of Rhode Island if it proves successful.
While the program will not explicitly aim to send every student enrolled to the University, Paxson said she hopes that it will result in more local students matriculating.
“This is a big effort,” Paxson said, noting that the University will need to hire a staff, a director and student-facing employees within the year ahead. “We have to grow an organization within the University to make this happen.”
Critically, the program also needs to work with PPSD — currently under state control — as well as other community stakeholders.
PPSD, Paxson noted, has seen “a lot of change.” But she emphasized that the University has “very good partners” in the district.
“I view this as an optimal time to start this program,” she said. “Once it’s started, and once it’s institutionalized, it will weather any future changes in administration (of PPSD).”
The last time the University made a large-scale commitment to PPSD, a $10 million commitment following the release of its 2006 report on the University’s ties to slavery, it took 14 years to fully fund the program. But Paxson said that she has no concerns of history repeating itself.
“I am committed to making this program, standing it up and getting it going right away,” she said.