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Miami, Cincinnati Public Schools partner to increase diverse enrollment

Miami University and Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) are partnering to increase diverse enrollment at the university.

The new partnership program, according to an agreement signed Thursday, Aug. 31 by Miami president Greg Crawford and Cincinnati Public Schools' superintendent Laura Mitchell, will provide more access, support and financial assistance to high-achieving CPS students.

"The partnership's explicit intent is to increase degree attainment within the region, particularly among diverse students, through the long-term engagement between two of the area's largest educational entities," the agreement reads.

The partnership is still in its planning stages, said university spokeswoman Claire Wagner, and will operate as a pilot in 2018. The goal, Wagner said, is to enroll up to 10 students through the program in Fall 2018.

According to the agreement, students are expected to have at least a 3.0 GPA, be in good academic standing and submit two letters of recommendation to be admitted to the cohort. These students also must be early decision applicants, meaning that, if accepted to Miami, they agree to withdraw all applications to other colleges.

Miami has committed to covering the full cost of attendance minus the family's EFC, or Estimated Family Contribution, for the students accepted to the cohort.

However, not every CPS student admitted to Miami will be accepted into the cohort and eligible for those financial benefits.

The partnership will reach CPS students as early as middle school through mentoring programs with Miami faculty.

Rodney Coates, professor and coordinator of Black World Studies at Miami, has been involved with the development of this new partnership.

Though the actual mentoring programs are still being developed, Coates said the intention is to ensure Miami doesn't just recruit diverse students. The university needs to do more to ensure those students succeed when they come to Miami, he said.

"We have to recognize that, for many young people, a place like Miami is so far out of their environment, they have no clue what it means to come here," Coates said. "The earlier we start, the better likelihood those students will be successful."

Students accepted to the cohort in its first year will be expected to attend mentoring programs at CPS and Miami and to participate in the fall 2017 Bridges Program, which brings underrepresented high school students to Miami's campus for an overnight visit.

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Miami plans to provide future cohorts with academic advising services, academic summer programs, scholarship opportunities, career development resources and CPS-specific recruitment programs.

CPS is Ohio's third-largest school district, serving 35,000 students in 56 schools. According to enrollment data from the 2016-17 school year, more than 75 percent of students are persons of color and almost 82 percent come from economically disadvantaged families.