A recent award from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation will help fund a University of Arkansas at Little Rock program that prepares incoming freshmen for college-level work.
The $12,500 donation will help finance this year’s Dr. Charles W. Donaldson Summer Bridge Academy, a three-week residential program.
Students who participate in the program can save $1,000 by eliminating the need for remedial math and English courses. In addition, they earn a $200 stipend, get free room and board through the university, and participate in special events, motivational workshops, and fun activities. Since the academy began in 2013, 107 students have completed the program.
“For young people in the Little Rock community, productive opportunities during the summer like schooling or employment are critical for filling free time and preparing them for a successful outlook,” said Donnie Cook, Bank of America’s Arkansas state president and Little Rock market president.
Cook said that when students are engaged in continuing their education or working during the summer months, it often leads to a better future for them and for the local economy.
“At Bank of America, we’re proud to partner with organizations like UALR and in particular the Summer Bridge Program because we know that with access to the right resources, young people can obtain the education and workforce skills they need which are so critical to long-term career success for them and our community,” Cook said.
Summer Bridge Coordinator Jonathan Bobo said UALR administrators started the program to ensure students do not fall behind in their academic classes.
“While they are important, students do not gain college credit by taking developmental classes, and it can keep them from graduating on time,” Bobo said. “We wanted to try to intervene prior to the students coming to college. The Summer Bridge Academy also gives them an opportunity to get a taste of the college life. A lot of the students are nervous when they first arrive, so it gives them a chance to get to know the campus.”
Participants also have the opportunity to build long-lasting relationships with faculty, staff, mentors, and peers.
Prospective students must apply to be considered for the program, which is intended for students who have been admitted to UALR but require developmental math based on standard test scores.
Applicants must be willing to commit to spending the full three weeks — including weekends — on campus in an academically intensive learning environment.
This year’s program is set to run from July 10-30 on the UALR campus, and 25 to 30 students are expected to participate.