Three foundations are trying to identify paths that could allow some community college students to transfer to the most elite colleges and universities.
The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is already known for a major scholarship program  for students who transfer from two-year institutions. In January, it quietly announced  that it planned to create another $7 million program aimed at increasing the number of two-year-college students who transfer to top colleges. In its formal announcement  Wednesday, it said the money will be spent, among other things, on a national conference and five grants of $1 million each to selective colleges to set up new transfer programs.
"The best community college students from low-income backgrounds have all the talent and drive required to succeed at great universities," said Matthew J. Quinn, the foundation's executive director. "This project will help the most selective colleges and universities do a better job of recruiting and enrolling an outstanding and economically diverse group of students."
The Cooke Foundation -- along with the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and the Lumina Foundation for Education -- also announced Wednesday a grant of $516,000 to a research team from the University of Massachusetts at Boston's New England Resource Center for Higher Education that will work in collaboration with scholars from the University of Southern California's Center for Urban Education and Tomás Rivera Policy Institute.
The team will try to find out the number of low-income community college students that selective four-year colleges and universities admit each year, how well these students perform, and what successful models exist at selective four-year schools for recruiting, admitting, retaining and graduating these students.