Grant targets gifted minority youths

Hopkins to use $1 million to increase diversity in summer program

February 19, 2000|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,SUN STAFF

The Goldman-Sachs Foundation has given $1 million to the Johns Hopkins University's Center for Talented Youth (CTY) that will be used to increase diversity in the center's programs for academically gifted middle and high school students.

The gift, one of the largest in the center's 20-year history, is one of the initial grants by the foundation, which was set up last year with $200 million when the financial firm went public.

"It's going to allow us to do reach-out to underrepresented minorities and recruit them for our programs," Stephen Gessner, CTY director of programs, said of the gift.

"It's something that we are very committed to but have been prevented from accomplishing, primarily for financial reasons."

CTY officials say about 2 percent of the 8,100 students taking part in its summer programs are black.

Gessner said the money will be used over the next two years, primarily in the New York City area, to identify eligible middle school pupils and underwrite the $2,200 tuition for CTY's summer courses, residential programs on 17 college campuses nationwide. The 100 students receiving the scholarships will be designated Goldman-Sachs Scholars.

"Very often, because our school systems are called on to do so many things, the youngsters who are the most academically gifted don't get as much attention as they might," said Stephanie Bell-Rose, president of the Goldman-Sachs Foundation.

"We're pleased about this grant because it fits into what we're calling our signature initiative, seeking to promote the development of high-potential youth so they can be on course for leadership positions," she said.

"It's an exciting opportunity to expand CTY's program in a way that really fits into this mission of ours."

Gessner said programs underwritten by smaller grants in Baltimore, Newark, N.J., and Washington have shown that a number of students from underrepresented minorities qualify under CTY's standards, which require a seventh-grader to achieve an SAT score at least equal to the average score of college-bound high school seniors.

"The outreach component of this is very important because it is expensive and time-consuming to contact these people, get them information about CTY and then convince their parents that this is something worthwhile," Gessner said.

"In Newark, we had no students in the program. Then with the grant money, we attracted 19," Gessner said.

"But we identified 55 who were eligible and would have given all of them scholarships if we could have convinced their parents to allow them to go.

"So, we're sure we'll find 100 bright kids in the New York area," he said.

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