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N.C. State's 'Farm to Philanthropy' Program Targets Rural Students

A new program at North Carolina State University aims to expand rural students' access to the university.

The Raleigh, N.C.-based college recently announced a $3 million gift for a "Farm to Philanthropy" program that will support a number of efforts to better prepare students to be accepted to and succeed at N.C. State.

The gift is noteworthy for a few reasons. First, significant financial investments specifically for rural students are the exception rather than the norm. This gift comes from Dr. Joseph K. and Deborah Kapp Gordon; Dr. Gordon is an alumnus of the school who founded Care First Animal Hospitals, and his wife also attended the university.

Second, this appears to be another one of the school's multiple efforts to focus on its rural students. We reported last October on its Northeast Leadership Academy, which will train more rural school leaders for North Carolina schools. That effort is led by a N.C. State associate professor.

Finally, the "Farm to Philanthropy" program is worth noting because N.C. State was among the participants in a January event at the White House during which it and other universities pledged to increase low-income and underserved students' access to higher education.

"Students in rural and underserved communities are often frustrated by their inability to successfully compete for college admission, which makes this gift and these initiatives so important to our land-grant mission," said Dr. Richard Linton, dean of N.C. State's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, in a statement. "In North Carolina, for example, SAT scores among our top 10 agricultural counties are more than 70 points lower than the national average, and 60 points lower than the statewide average. This program will help ensure that there is more than one pathway to an N.C. State degree in fields related to agriculture and life sciences."

The program's initiatives will include ACT Supplemental Preparation in Rural Education, which will help rural students prepare for standardized college-entrance examinations. Money will be used to allow students in more counties to take an intensive test-preparation course.

Another will be Student Transfer Enrollment, Advising, and Mentoring, which will allow selected students who begin their higher education elsewhere to participate in special activities at N.C. State to enhance their preparation for the university. Upon successful completion of the STEAM program, participants are guaranteed admission to a degree program in the university's College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

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