Using the $1 million donation that was committed by the Give Something Back Foundation (GSBF) to Montclair State University last Thursday, 50 current ninth-grade students will receive an education at the university when it comes time for them to attend college.
Robert Carr, founder of the GSBF, presented the grant money to President Susan A. Cole at the acceptance ceremony held in the Feliciano School of Business last Thursday, Sept. 24. The funds will be used for the soon-to-be recipients’ tuition starting in the fall 2019 semester.
Four mayors of municipalities in Northern New Jersey, Montclair Mayor Robert D. Jackson, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, East Orange Mayor Lester Taylor II and Orange Township Mayor Dwayne Warren, attended to show their respect and support for all the work Carr and the GSBF are contributing to New Jersey higher education.
Each of the mayors gave a speech to the guests, staff and students attending the event and the East Orange mayor made one student’s day by publicly committing to her a paid internship during the last semester of her undergraduate education. She earned this opportunity by coming to the event with a cover letter and a résumé, walking up to Taylor and telling him she wanted a job.
In her opening speech at the ceremony, Cole stated, “I had the opportunity to meet Bob Carr not too long ago and I was struck by his deep commitment and conviction [to provide] access to educational opportunities [and] cut through society’s most complex problems.” This conviction is apparent in his actions as an adult, for instance, when he created GSBF in 2003, completely with his own funds.
Carr learned the power of scholarships early on, when he received a $250 scholarship from the Lockport Woman’s Club, a local organization in his hometown in Illinois. The money gave him the ability to focus on his education and rise higher in the world than he would have been able to otherwise. He promised to himself that he would later give back to the club when he was able to and that day came years later when he donated $100,000 to the organization.
The GSBF is a nonprofit corporation and, according to the foundation’s website, their mission is “to provide mentors and scholarships that help Pell Grant-eligible students go to college and graduate in four years debt-free.”
I had the opportunity to meet Bob Carr not too long ago and I was struck by his deep commitment and conviction [to provide] access to educational opportunities [and] cut through society’s most complex problems. -President Susan Cole
The check given to Montclair State is the seventh of these types of donations given to schools around the country by the GSBF and the third recipient college in New Jersey. The two other schools that received funds from the GSBF are Rowan University and the College of New Jersey.
This foundation does not just allocate money for students in need, which is an incredible opportunity for a lot of students in and of itself. In order to be an eligible recipient, students must be eligible for a Pell Grant, have academic potential and be able to begin the program in the ninth grade.
To help pick the recipients among so many qualified applicants, GSBF staff members work with both high school administrators and teachers to help identify which students could benefit the most from this grant.
The recipients have access and support from the foundation throughout high school and college. Some of the support includes mentoring, networking opportunities, etiquette training and educational panels. The idea is to give bright, underprivileged children the support they need to be ready for college and then to ensure that they have a normal college experience.
The resources will help recipients meet specific criteria throughout high school, including maintaining a GPA of 3.0 or higher while taking classes at the AP and honors level, meeting the expectations of good character, along with the specific requirements to attend Montclair State.
All GSBF scholars are also required to finish their degree in four years and are expected and encouraged to live on campus. Most students do finish on time. 92 percent of all GSBF recipients graduated within a four year period.
According to national data, Carr’s system does seem to be working. Complete College America released a study of graduation rates in December 2014 that shows extremely low numbers of on-time graduation rates. Only 5 percent of full-time students at public institutions, 19 percent at public four year institutions and 36 percent at high-research universities graduated on time.
After the event, the students were all buzzing with excitement, taking photos with the mayors, Dr. Cole and Bob Carr, excited for the opportunities and elated by the inspirational speeches.