Jack Kent Cooke Foundation funds college-access program at Mason
BY ALEXA TIRONI, STAFF WRITER
Mason’s Early Identification Program (EIP) recently received a $100,000 grant. The funding comes from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, a scholarship foundation that provides financial aid to exceptionally promising students in need of financial aid.
Since 2000, the foundation has awarded $200 million in scholarships to over 2,600 students from 8th grade through graduate school and $110 million in educational grants, according to their website.
EIP is a college-access program that provides educational resources for middle and high school students who will be first generation college students.
EIP serves seven counties in Northern Virginia and currently has 600 students actively pursuing higher education. The program provides middle and high school students with year-round academic enrichment in the form of personal and social development, civic engagement and leadership training opportunities.
When asked about the benefits of the donation EIP Director Khaseem Davis said the money will go towards “creating a pre-honors seminar that we’re going to offer during our summer academy.” EIP’s summer academy is a three-week academic enrichment program where rising ninth to12th grade students come to Mason and take classes that correspond with their enrollment in the fall.
“This [grant] will provide them with more of a preview of what university education entails … and a better understanding of the importance and necessity of rigor and research,” said Davis.
EIP’s summer academy is a three-week academic enrichment program where rising 9th-12th grade students come to GMU and take classes that correlate with their enrollment in the fall.
To be an EIP member, students must first be nominated by a teacher or counselor then begin the application process, which requires an essay as well as recommendation letters. The EIP application process is meant to mimic the actual college application process.
Along with academic tutoring, students also receive lessons in “life skills” such as leadership and self-advocacy, as well as a financial aid program that prepares students and families for university education and finances.
EIPcan also offer students financial aid in the form of scholarship money and book awards.
“The goal is to keep an eye on how students are doing, how they’re experiencing GMU. So, if that student is in distress we try to work with them and connect them with appropriate offices to get them services,” said Davis.
EIP students only need to apply for scholarships and the program will do their best to accommodate.
EIP funds their students mainly through donations and grants, such as the one awarded by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.
“The program comes at no cost to students, but we work hard to raise the money to provide the program to students,” said Davis. The program awards several students full tuition scholarships and over 12 students receive partial tuition scholarships.
Once at Mason, EIP students can continue their involvement and academic success with the College Transitions program. The program mainly focuses on current freshmen but is designed to benefit all college students.
“100 percent [of EIP students] will graduate from high school, hands down. And then about 95 percent will attend post-secondary education to pursue their bachelor’s degree — about half of those students will go to George Mason,” Davis reported.
In EIP’s promotional video, students expressed that their experience within the program has changed their academic life for the better. “I know for a fact that if it wasn’t for EIP I wouldn’t be in college today, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today,” said one student featured in the video.
When asked about this, Davis expressed the importance of valuing education.
“You have a group of students sacrificing their weekends, their summers, after school … and they’re doing it all for the sole purpose of going to college,” said Davis.
In the upcoming academic year, EIP is looking to create a program connection with Mason’s School of Education in order to increase students’ access and exposure to many career paths.
EIP has some upcoming events this October such as “Dare to Learn,” which will give students a broader picture of what the program does. The academic mentoring program will encourage dedicated students to apply for an academic mentoring position, so they can make a difference in the lives of current and future college students.