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JCSU tapped for Gates Foundation innovation grant

4-year partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aims to boost graduation in underserved populations


Nov. 11, 2015 -- Charlotte, N.C. — Johnson C. Smith University has been identified by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as one of 35 high-potential Institutional Partnership (IP) Sites committed to transforming its organization to ensure that more students—especially low-income and first-generation students and students of color—graduate at higher rates with high-quality degrees or certificates.

With this designation comes a four-year commitment to JCSU and the other designated IP Sites to help the institutions get more students to and through college, and financial support from the foundation. Specific goals include:

1.         Accelerating the production of degrees and credentials by an average of 4.5% per year

2.         Collecting, sharing and scaling learning with partners through deliberate and consistent strategies.

3.         Refining and improving particular interventions and the deployment of them.

4.         Accelerating implementation through a networked approach to engaging with partners.


“Johnson C. Smith has been on a trajectory of radical transformation for seven and a half years, aligning the university’s historical narrative, core beliefs, academic programming and business plan to maximize  new developments within the higher educational landscape,” said President Ronald L. Carter. “We are proud to see our efforts recognized and will use this partnership to continue serving the needs of our students purposefully, now and in the future.”

Some of the innovative programs that are accelerating student graduation and certification at JCSU are University College, which recognizes non-cognitive skills and success predictors in admissions and gives students the support needed to succeed; the Foster Village Network Center, which provides youth phasing out of foster care with the tools and guidance to realize their educational ambitions; Metropolitan College’s online degree programs target working adult learners; and the increased recruitment and enrollment of Latino students.

As the IP institutions develop the playbook around transformative change, the grant will provide a platform for them to collect, analyze and share what they learn, in order to scale the best models for promoting student success nationally. The ultimate goal is to uncover best practices to produce credentials in underserved student populations.




About Johnson C. Smith University

Founded in 1867, Johnson C. Smith University is an independent, close-knit urban university located in Charlotte, N.C. It has a growing national reputation for integrating the liberal arts with business, the sciences and technology in ways that empower tomorrow’s diverse entrepreneurial citizens and leaders. Offering 23 fields of study, including a master’s degree in social work, to more than 1,400 students from a variety of ethnic, socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds, the university’s excellent academic programs focus on servant leadership, civic engagement and global responsibility. For more information about JCSU, visit or follow the university on social media sites Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest.


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