Academic building.

ATLANTIC CITY – Stockton University has been awarded a state grant to establish a college bound program for students in Atlantic City and Pleasantville. The program will be based at the new Atlantic City campus starting in early 2019.

Stockton’s Atlantic City College Bound program will accept 100 students in grades 7-12 from Atlantic City and Pleasantville who will receive special instructional classes on Saturdays, plus summer enrichment, mentoring, college tours, and academic, career and financial aid counseling.

Robert Heinrich, chief enrollment management officer at Stockton, said the goal of the program is to both increase high school graduate rates and help prepare students for post-secondary education.

“Stockton’s new Atlantic City College Bound program will help promising students develop the skills they need to prepare for and be successful in college,” Heinrich said.  “We look forward to helping these students plan their futures and achieve their goals.”

Student recruitment will primarily target students attending Sovereign Avenue, New York Avenue, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Uptown School Complex, and Atlantic City High School in Atlantic City, and Pleasantville High School and Middle School. Transportation and meals will be provided to the Saturday instructional classes, college tours, and educational field trips.

Stockton will receive more than $144,000 from the N.J. Office of the Secretary of Higher Education to support  student recruitment and the implementation of the program during fiscal year 2019.

Graduates of the program who attend Stockton will also receive priority for Stockton’s Atlantic City Educational Opportunity Fund program, which provides academic and financial support to eligible college students.

“Such a program will encourage and provide incentives for students to obtain the skills and motivation necessary to complete their secondary education and enter and succeed in a program of post-secondary education,” Atlantic City Superintendent Barry Caldwell said. “As always, Stockton reaches to the forefront in educational planning and leadership.”

“This is a wonderful complement to our already existing college preparatory programs,” Pleasantville Superintendent Clarence Alston said. “We have a plethora of students who are full of promise in Pleasantville. It is vital that we have conversations and engage students in activities that expose them to the college community now. This program provides potential first-generation college students with direct access to the tools needed to make their dreams a reality.”

Students can obtain an application from their school guidance office at each target school beginning Jan. 2, 2019 or by contacting program coordinator Destiny Talley at Students at each target school who previously participated in the federally-funded GEAR UP program are grandfathered into A.C. College Bound and will be notified.

“It is the highest honor to serve these students and create a school-to-college pipeline that can potentially change the trajectory of their lives and benefit their communities,” said Talley, Stockton’s College Bound assistant director.