Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Announces New Grants Dedicated to College Access and Academic Excellence

Today, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation announced over $1.7 million in new grant funding to support nine organizations dedicated to closing opportunity gaps and creating strong pathways to college for exceptionally promising students with financial need.

“These grants build on our nearly two decades of working alongside organizations focused on helping high-achieving students without financial resources pursue postsecondary education,” said Seppy Basili, executive director of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. “We are excited to support the meaningful work of these organizations committed to ensuring students have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential.”

Since 2001, the Cooke Foundation has focused its efforts to expand educational opportunities by supporting high-achieving students directly as well as grantmaking to organizations with a track record of helping students prepare for college. These grants – to both local and national organizations – will allow these organizations to continue to expand the number of students they serve or deepen the programming they offer.

The latest Grantees include:

Delaware College Scholars –  Delaware College Scholars is a seven-year program beginning in 10th grade that includes an intensive academic year and summer residential programming designed to help high-achieving under-resourced students successfully apply to, attend, and graduate from four-year colleges and universities. In 2022, 100% of students that participated in Delaware College Scholars’ intensive summer residential programming graduated high school and 98% of those students matriculated into college.

EMERGE – EMERGE was founded in 2010 in response to a challenge faced by many high schools in the Houston Independent School District: only 13% of students from Houston’s low-income communities earn a post-secondary degree (two or four-year) within ten years of graduating from high school. Last year, 90% of EMERGE students in the high school class of 2022 were accepted to at least one selective college or university. Over 600 alumni are pursuing advanced degrees or have been hired by top companies.  Today, EMERGE serves over 1,500 college students at more than 150 selective colleges and universities nationwide.

Heights Philadelphia – The organization combines academic programming with school-based advisors to serve over 3,000 students in the School District of Philadelphia middle and high schools. Just under half of the 2023 class from Height’s Philadelphia’s most recent program received early decision admittance to college.

High Jump – High Jump was created to support the achievement of Chicago middle grade students who exhibit academic ambition and come from families of limited economic means. 87% of High Jump Scholars matriculated to rigorous top college prep high schools and 100% of High Jump Scholars alumni graduated from high school in 2022.

Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America – LEDA works to diversify the leadership pipeline by helping high-achieving students from under-resourced backgrounds gain admission to the nation’s most selective colleges and supporting their success at these institutions. 88% of new first-year college students opted into the LEDA Peer Mentor Program and 90% of LEDA Scholars graduated from college within six years.

Matriculate – Matriculate’s mission is to empower high-achieving students with financial need to thrive and succeed at the country’s best colleges and universities by leveraging college-enrolled advising fellows to remotely guide students along their college application process. In the class of 2021, 86% of high school seniors who engaged with their advising fellow enrolled in a high-graduation rate college.

National Education Equity Lab – The Ed Equity Lab is working with the nation’s top colleges like Princeton, Howard, Cornell, and Stanford to deliver 30 different rigorous college courses and support to over 10,000 students in Title I-eligible high schools, across 29 states. Students are able to earn college credit, gain exposure to actual college courses and faculty, and receive college advising. 80% of students completing courses through the Ed Equity Lab passed, earning high school and widely transferable college credits, and 89% of students report an increased understanding of college-level work and expectations.

The Ingenuity Project – The Ingenuity Project’s is the only comprehensive program of its kind to help prepare and launch the next diverse generation of nationally competitive STEM Leaders from Baltimore City Public Schools. 95% of the Project’s high school class of 2021 enrolled in highly competitive colleges and 62% conducted research or participated in out-of-class STEM experiences.

Thrive Scholars – Thrive supports students of color from low-income communities in BostonChicagoLos AngelesCleveland, New York, and Jacksonville with the opportunities they need to thrive at top colleges and in meaningful careers through a six-year academic support program through college and their early career. 92% of all college-going Thrive Scholars attend a top 100 ranked college or university.

In addition to the nine Grantees above, From the Top also received grant funding from the Cooke Foundation, which is included in the $1.7 million total. From The Top is dedicated to celebrating the stories, talents, and character of young classically-trained musicians. Since 2005, FTT and the Cooke Foundation have partnered to offer The Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award to pre-professional, classically trained musicians with financial need. This award provides up to $10,000 in individual scholarships to 20 musicians, ages 8 to 18. In the past 18 years, FTT has awarded over $3.4 million in scholarships to over 380 young musicians.  


For more than 20 years, the Cooke Foundation has dedicated its mission to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. Since 2000, the Foundation has awarded almost $250 million in scholarships to nearly 3,200 students from 8th grade through graduate school, along with comprehensive educational advising and other support services. The Foundation has also provided $131 million in grants to organizations that serve such students. www.jkcf.org