Rutgers University–Camden Lends Support to White House College Opportunity Day of Action

Rutgers University–Camden Chancellor Phoebe A. Haddon (left) and Nyeema Watson, acting associate chancellor for civic engagement, at the White House College Opportunity Day of Action.

Rutgers University–Camden Chancellor Phoebe A. Haddon (left) and Nyeema Watson, acting associate chancellor for civic engagement, at the White House College Opportunity Day of Action.

On Dec. 4, representatives from Rutgers University–Camden, the Camden School District, and Camden County College joined President Obama, the First Lady, and Vice President Biden along with hundreds of college presidents and other higher education leaders to announce new actions to help more students prepare for and graduate from college.

The White House College Opportunity Day of Action helps to support the President’s commitment to partner with colleges and universities, business leaders, and nonprofits to support students across the country to help our nation reach its goal of leading the world in college attainment.

The southern New Jersey representatives were Rutgers University–Camden Chancellor Phoebe A. Haddon, Camden Schools Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard, and Camden County College President Raymond Yannuzzi. In collaboration with Rowan University, these institutions will lead the Camden City College Access Network, which is committed to increasing college access and success outcomes. Leveraging the resources and expertise of all involved, the core work of the CCAN will be to create a common agenda focused on creating a college-going culture, and increasing college readiness and college completion in the city.

“Providing wide access to college, and preparing students for success in college, is of critical importance to a diverse and effective citizenry. Rutgers University–Camden is proud to be part of this innovative approach to preparing Camden children and teens for success in college and in life,” says Haddon. “We were honored to be invited to The White House to represent southern New Jersey and the City of Camden, and we look forward to working together to move forward the Camden City College Access Network to clear the pathway to higher education for students in the Camden City School District.”

Camden Schools Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard, Rutgers-Camden Acting Associate Chancellor for Civic Engagement Nyeema Watson, Rutgers-Camden Chancellor Phoebe Haddon, and Camden County College President Ray Yannuzzi (l-r).

Camden Schools Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard, Rutgers-Camden Acting Associate Chancellor for Civic Engagement Nyeema Watson, Rutgers-Camden Chancellor Phoebe Haddon, and Camden County College President Ray Yannuzzi (l-r).

The participants were asked to commit to new action in one of four areas: building networks of colleges around promoting completion, creating K-16 partnerships around college readiness, investing in high school counselors as part of the First Lady’s Reach Higher initiative, and increasing the number of college graduates in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The President will announce new steps on how his Administration is helping to support these actions, including announcing $10 million to help promote college completion and a $30 million AmeriCorps program that will improve low-income students’ access to college. Today’s event is the second College Opportunity Day of Action, and will include a progress report on the commitments made at the first day of action on January 14, 2014.

Expanding opportunity for more students to enroll and succeed in college, especially low-income and underrepresented students, is vital to building a strong economy and a strong middle class. Today, only 9 percent of those born in the lowest family income quartile attain a bachelor’s degree by age 25, compared to 54 percent in the top quartile. In an effort to expand college access, the Obama Administration has increased Pell scholarships by $1,000 a year, created the new American Opportunity Tax Credit worth up to $10,000 over four years of college, limited student loan payments to 10 percent of income, and laid out an ambitious agenda to reduce college costs and promote innovation and competition.

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