WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced a new partnership between the White House and Kenyon College to increase college access for low income and disadvantaged students. As a part of the Administration’s effort to help more students afford and graduate college with the skills needed to succeed in today’s workforce, it has asked for colleges and universities across the country to commit to one of four areas that American institutions can improve upon to help underprivileged students.

“Education is the key to providing all Ohioans the opportunity for success,” Brown said. “But where you’re born or how much your family makes shouldn’t cost you that opportunity. We must continue to strengthen programs that ensure success for students from all backgrounds. Kenyon’s commitment today is a step in the right direction to helping all students succeed in college and gain the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in today’s world.”

As a way to serve and recruit low-income high school students, Kenyon will develop three mentorship teams focused on helping students gain college credit through AP programs, develop stronger writing skills, and provide summer learning opportunities through Camp Four. The goal of each mentorship team will be to increase enrollment of students from each program into the College and increase the overall rate of college enrollment among Camp Four participants from its current 70 percent to 95 percent. Additionally, Kenyon will focus on the retention of minority and first-generation students through its Recognizing Each Other’s Ability to Conquer the Hill (REACH) program.

The REACH program will also strive to increase study abroad opportunities among underrepresented students. Lastly, the program will create a new mentorship project between alumni and current students around specific industry sectors to help place current undergraduates into careers.

The Administration remains committed to achieving its “North Star” goal of leading the world in the share of college graduates by 2020. To achieve this, it has identified four areas the country can—and the Administration will—work to improve:

  1. Connecting more low-income students to the college that fits their needs in order to ensure their success;
  2. Intervening earlier to increase the pool of students preparing for college;
  3. Leveling the playing field for students needing SAT/ACT test preparation and college advising; and
  4. Strengthening programs to ensure students academically underprepared can progress throughout their academic careers.

 These efforts would help to close the opportunity gap between higher and lower income students. According to the White House, in 1990, American 25 to 34 year olds ranked first in the world in attaining four-year degrees. Today, however, that same group ranks twelfth. Further, half of Americans who come from high-income families hold a bachelor’s degree by age 25 compared to only one in 10 Americans from low-income families.  

 That is why Brown remains committed to strengthening education for all Ohioans, having taught in Ohio’s public schools and at The Ohio State University’s Mansfield branch. In March 2014, Brown will host his seventh annual College and University Presidents’ Conference in Washington D.C. with presidents from colleges and universities across Ohio. Brown’s forum—the first of its kind—is aimed at connecting educators with each other to advance the quality of Ohio’s higher education system and promote success for all students.

 Brown also is the author of the Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act of 2013, bipartisan legislation that would help dislocated workers train for high-tech jobs in their region. The SECTORS Act would achieve this by organizing stakeholders connected to a regional industry, including education and training providers, business and labor leaders, and local workforce and education system administrators, to develop plans for growing that industry.