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The College Crusade: closing gaps in student outcomes
By / October 26, 2015 /   Loading Disqus...
Education grantmaking at the Rhode Island Foundation is focused on closing gaps in student outcomes. We look at gaps that exist between our state and our regional peers – our high school graduation rate, for example, lags behind all other states in New England – as well as gaps that exist within our state between students from different backgrounds. And while we’re privileged to invest in many schools and nonprofit organizations that advance this work across our state, few operate at the scale and effectiveness as the College Crusade of Rhode Island.

The College Crusade runs over 60 different programs in 31 middle and high schools in Central Falls, Cranston, Pawtucket, Providence and Woonsocket. Programs take place during the school day, after school, on the weekends, during school vacations and over the summer; they include Saturday math academy programs, robotics clubs, literacy programs, study skills workshops, college visits, tutoring and homework clubs, SAT test prep, FASFA and college application support and much more. Students enroll in the College Crusade in either the sixth or seventh grade and participate in programming through high school graduation and into their college years. The College Crusade also offers last-dollar cash and donated scholarships to Crusaders who attend colleges and universities in Rhode Island and beyond; in 2014, the College Crusade granted more than $3 million in scholarships to 843 students.

They all have positive goals. They can support each other as well as be supported by us.

         – Bob Oberg, The College Crusade of Rhode Island

Each year, approximately 4,000 participate in College Crusade programming, 97% of whom are eligible for free or reduced price lunch, 67% of whom will be first-generation college goers, 46% of whom live in homes where English is not the primary language and 92% of whom identify as black, Latino, Asian or multiracial. And the results are impressive: the College Crusade boasts a four-year high school graduation rate of 81.4% - 14 percentage points higher than the rate for their peers in urban districts (67.2%) and higher even than the statewide average for all students (80%). Three quarters of Crusaders enroll in college within one year and first-year retention rates at Rhode Island’s public colleges are higher for Crusaders than for entering students from all other backgrounds (+15% at the University of Rhode Island, +11% at Rhode Island College and +9% at the Community College of Rhode Island).

Researchers at Drexel University recently completed a rigorous evaluation of the College Crusade’s impact on our state. Their finding? Crusaders who enrolled in the 6th grade were 37% more likely to attend college than their peers, even when controlling for other explanatory factors. In recognition of these remarkable achievements, the College Crusade was recently honored by the National College Access Network with the organization’s 2015 College Access Award of Excellence.

We’re proud to support the work of organizations like the College Crusade who share our mission of helping to ensure all of Rhode Island’s young people have the opportunity to excel in the college or career of their choice. We salute the staff and students of the College Crusade and look forward to celebrating their continued success in the school year ahead.


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