Given the large percentage of our clients who are children (40%), The River Fund New York recognizes the need to go past basic needs and government benefits in moving underserved communities beyond the lines of poverty. For this objective to have any meaningful result, we need to offer pathways to better education to the children of poor families. With a complete education, these children will be better equipped to help pull their neighborhoods forward. We consider this to be the only realistic approach for truly breaking “the cycle of poverty.”
In connecting high-school students living in poverty to financial aid—so they can attend and complete college—we have found that funding gaps often pose insurmountable obstacles for these children. A well-performing student who gets accepted to a four-year degree program that costs $55,000 year, may qualify for government aid, incentives and student loans totaling 90% of those costs. This still leaves $5,000 per year ($20,000 over the course of the program) that the child’s family is unable to come up with. Typically, that’s the portion of the expense described by the college as “Materials and Out of Pocket Costs” in their financial proposal. If students cannot find the money needed to pay for books, equipment and transportation—the things usually included in this expense category—they will not be able to participate in class, even if their tuition is covered by government grants and loans.
Since colleges accept applicants based on merit, the funding shortfall can sometimes be substantial. For example, the child of a poor family getting accepted to an Ivy League university may attract very large amounts in financial aid, scholarships and may even obtain sizeable loans. However, because of credit-rules, the funding-gap remaining after all loan offers could still amount to $25,000 per year or more—and could encompass housing, meal plans and other costs.
The goal of establishing the Mary C. Tiedemann Scholarship Fund—named in honor of the late mother of our Chairman—is to make bridge-grants available to worthy students. The grants are designed to cover those insurmountable shortfalls—reliably for four years, thus relieving the students of the annual challenge of competing with new freshmen for support, and the associated anxiety that comes with being at risk of dropping out.
Students who are selected for grants will have demonstrated a willingness to serve the community through regular volunteering. We believe these are the people who will work as adults at breaking the cycle of poverty in their neighborhoods; hence, they are the ones who deserve all the support we can give them as they acquire the tools they will need in the future to continue serving as they already do.
We need all the support we can get! Are you in? Click here.
Laptops for College
Although many students of merit who live in poverty work hard to get financial aid to cover their college tuition—usually tens of thousands of dollars, those funds go directly from state sources to school administrators. In addition, they get student loans to cover portions of their college bill that are not covered by financial aid and the school’s incentive programs—for which most of them qualify. Then, they typically work low-paying jobs while going to school—to cover the cost of transportation, books and other expenses that parents in better circumstances usually assume for their children.
However, after all that effort, these kids may still fail—just because they don’t have their own laptop.
For us, all it takes its $350 to get them all set! So, we’ve launched our Laptops for College Initiative to provide a new (not refurbished) state-of-the-art laptop to our college kids—loaded with the necessary operating system and productivity software suite for four full years of college.
As simple as it may seem, a laptop is like the keystone in the arch to success these kids are building. Yet, it’s a requirement that’s extremely difficult to get support for.
We’re on it! You can help.
The Mary C. Tiedemann Scholarship Fund is our vehicle for delivering gap-scholarships to students of merit coming from families in poverty. Donate here.
We provide our college kids with a brand new, well-equipped laptop computer—together with necessary productivity software for four years of college. Click here to equip a new scholar.