$1M gift provides full ride for eligible students to attend Binghamton University

Pell Grant-eligible students can get full ride to Binghamton University

Give Something Back founder Bob Carr listens to Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger speak at the public announcement of a partnership between Give Something Back and the University to offer full-ride support to underrepresented students to attend Binghamton University. Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.
Give Something Back founder Bob Carr listens to Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger speak at the public announcement of a partnership between Give Something Back and the University to offer full-ride support to underrepresented students to attend Binghamton University.
Give Something Back founder Bob Carr listens to Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger speak at the public announcement of a partnership between Give Something Back and the University to offer full-ride support to underrepresented students to attend Binghamton University. Photography: Jonathan Cohen.

“Life-changing” support is on its way to up to 50 high-need, high-potential students to help them meet the academic requirements of attending Binghamton University and graduating in four years with their bachelor’s degrees, while incurring little to no debt.

A $1 million gift from Give Something Back will support scholarships for the 50 Pell Grant-eligible students. On Monday, Give Back and the University announced the gift and their partnership to help the selected students succeed.

Give Back recruits ninth-grade students and provides mentoring and skills development throughout high school to prepare them for the academic rigors of a college education. The program focuses on supporting high-achieving scholars with a special outreach to those who have experienced foster care or the incarceration of a parent.

High school student and mentor recruitment will begin this year, with enrollment of the first cohort at Binghamton expected in 2021.

“It’s a great honor to be selected as a Give Something Back school,” University President Harvey Stenger said. “We look forward to welcoming the students who will receive this support and the amazing things that they will accomplish while attending Binghamton.”

Binghamton was selected as one of only three universities for the New York state program launch, and the only school located upstate. The other New York schools are Mercy College and Queens College, both in metro New York.

“Binghamton has a spectacular reputation throughout the state of New York,” said Robert Carr, who founded Give Back in 2003 as a way of paying forward a scholarship he received when he was a student. “I’m doing for kids what was done for me.”

To date, Give Back has supported 1,500 students in seven states.

Give Back helps students who may not have considered college an achievable option to get the guidance and financial support they need. The program pairs mentoring with college-readiness programming throughout the scholars’ four years of high school, then provides a scholarship that covers the cost of tuition, standard fees, room and board.

“Our program is absolutely life changing for the students we help,” Carr said.

Students are encouraged after graduating from college to serve as mentors or contribute financially to provide similar opportunities for the next generation of students, he said.

“I was the student that Bob Carr wants to recruit,” said Tonya O. Parris ’92, president and founder of the Parris Foundation, a nonprofit organization that lifts underrepresented, low-income students out of poverty through scholarships and skills development in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Stenger said students helped by the Parris Foundation could potentially benefit from the Give Back program.

“Binghamton changed me,” Parris said. “It showed me I could defeat anything against all odds. It was my baseline for success.”

Parris described herself as the oldest of five children, raised in a single-parent, low-income household, and the first in her family to attend college. She credited the mentorship and other support she received from Binghamton’s Educational Opportunity Program and the Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering and Applied Science for putting her on the path to success.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Binghamton, she went on to attend graduate school and develop a career on Wall Street, with jobs at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. Through her Parris Foundation, she now focuses on philanthropy and serving and supporting others.

“I wish this program was around when I was in school,” Parris said. “It’s really important to let young people know they’re worthy and they matter. Then they take off. They think, ‘I can do this.’”

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