Lehman College Receives $1.1 Million Robin Hood Grant to Target On-Time Graduation Rates

Photo of Lehman students

Finding the right formula to increase on-time graduation rates has long been a quest for colleges, which is why the Robin Hood Foundation’s renewable $1.1 million grant to Lehman College for a promising new program is a big deal for the college and the 250 students that will benefit.

The foundation awarded the money to the only senior college of The City University of New York in the Bronx to expand CUNY’s Accelerate, Complete, and Engage (ACE) program to Lehman. The program helps baccalaureate students complete their degrees in four years. The new program at Lehman also marks the first time transfer students with associate degrees have been allowed to participate in the ACE program.

“Half of the students who attend Lehman come from families that make less than $30,000 a year. These students don’t have access to the ‘extras’ that so many people take for granted, the hidden advantages that make succeeding in college easier,” said Lehman College President José Luis Cruz. “But an education is the way to upward mobility for these students, so we’re thrilled that the Robin Hood Foundation is making it possible for more students to succeed.”

Students that take longer than four years to earn their degree are at a disadvantage. They spend more money in school costs, lose those years of earning potential, and many don’t ever finish school at all.

The program will work with 125 full-time first-time students entering college and 125 full-time students transferring from a two-year college in fall 2019 for all four years of their education, with a goal of doubling four-year baccalaureate graduation rates. The grant money will cover the often-overlooked costs that make it more difficult for some students to attend school full time: textbooks, lab fees, MetroCards to get to and from class, and gaps between financial aid and the cost of tuition.

Additionally, the ACE program will offer extra personalized support for the selected students, many of whom will be the first in their families to attend college. Students will have access to resources such as embedded career development, targeted academic advising, counseling, and help with finding internships and applying for research opportunities and scholarships.

“We were proud partners with CUNY on its ASAP program, a game changer for helping thousands of New Yorkers to find sustainable pathways out of poverty for themselves and their families,” said Wes Moore, chief executive officer of Robin Hood. “Robin Hood is thrilled to once again partner with CUNY to make a similar impact with ACE, creating high-impact innovation that benefits New York City’s residents, neighborhoods, and its future.”

CUNY first launched the ACE program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2015, modeling the new program on CUNY’s nationally recognized Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP).

“With the generous support of Robin Hood, more CUNY students will have the benefit of an innovative program of proven efficacy that will enable them to finish their bachelor’s degrees in four years,” said Interim Chancellor Vita C. Rabinowitz. “The ACE program, based on CUNY’s successful ASAP program that has more than doubled timely graduation rates in associate degree programs, is another example of CUNY’s commitment to its students’ success and its impact in public higher education.”

Lehman College is working to be a gateway to a better life for the people of the Bronx and of New York. Because education is the path to upward mobility, Lehman is working towards the 90x30 Challenge, which seeks to double the number of market value degrees and credentials earned by Lehman students from 45,000 to 90,000 by the year 2030.

About Lehman College: Lehman College, the City University of New York’s only four-year college in the Bronx, serves approximately 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students across 140-degree programs, plus 13,000 students in certificate and workforce development programs. Lehman provides undergraduate and graduate studies in the liberal arts, sciences, and professional education, all within a dynamic research environment. Lehman engages with the local community through active service, learning, and career development programs, and has an exceptional performing arts center and art gallery that is open to the public. Ranked as having the third highest mobility rate in the nation by the Equality of Opportunity Project, Lehman is a proud catalyst for economic and social mobility for its students, almost half of whom are first generation college students.