$1.5 million gift from Give Something Back
to support scholarships at RCGC and Rowan University
Give Something Back (Give Back) has awarded $500,000 to Rowan College at Gloucester County (RCGC) and $1 million to Rowan University to fund scholarships for Pell Grant-eligible students who have faced economic hardships or other challenges, such as the incarceration of a parent or foster care.
A nonprofit organization founded by philanthropist, entrepreneur and author Robert O. Carr, Give Back supports college-bound students from low-income families by providing scholarships and mentoring programs, helping them to graduate in four years with little or no debt. Since 2003, the organization has prepaid more than $35 million in scholarships to help more than 1,500 students in seven states.
"This contribution reflects Give Back's new commitment to select students into the program who have been impacted by foster care and/or parental incarceration," said Robert O. Carr, founder and chairman of Give Back. "This is a population that experiences overwhelming obstacles; many of them never go to college, and very few graduate. Those not in college often wind up in jail, homeless or worse."
Give Back awarded $1 million to Rowan University in 2015 to enable 50 economically disadvantaged but academically talented students to attend the University at no cost. Fourteen Give Back scholars presently are enrolled at Rowan College and Rowan University.
First for a community college
Although to date Give Back has provided opportunities for students enrolling in four-year schools, the latest contribution is significant as RCGC is the first community college in the country to be funded by the organization. Because community colleges have open enrollment, this gift will make a degree possible for exceptional young people who may not have been high achievers in high school due to trauma and instability but who have the drive and ability to achieve a college degree.
"Rowan College at Gloucester County is honored to be a partner school of Give Something Back," said RCGC President Frederick Keating. "We share in their mission to support students as they complete a four-year degree. This gift is the largest our school has received, and it will make a significant difference in the lives of many young men and women."
In recognition of this historic gift, RCGC unveiled the new Give Back Scholars Library. The newly re-named library will stand as a reminder of the powerful influence that higher education can have over the course of a life and the importance of ensuring every student has access to that life-changing opportunity.
The funding will allow RCGC and Rowan University to build on several longstanding collaborations. Among other initiatives, the scholarships can be used by students in the Rowan Choice program, a partnership that allows RCGC students to live on the Rowan University campus for their first two years of college, immersing themselves in Rowan activities and opportunities while taking classes at RCGC at a reduced cost. Upon successful completion of their associate degree, participants are accepted automatically into the University.
At Rowan, students supported by Give Back participate in the Rowan First Star Academy. The Rowan First Star Academy is implemented by the South Jersey First Star Collaborative, a partnership of First Star, Rowan University and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children), and United Advocacy Group, serving foster youth from Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem counties and funded by the Pascale Sykes Foundation. The Rowan First Star Academy focuses on creating lifetime networks of support for the participating youth and their families (natural or foster).
Carr created Give Back in 2003 to help talented youth of modest means attend college in Illinois. The organization expanded to New Jersey in 2015, making its first gift to Rowan. Since then it has funded scholarships at Montclair State University, the New Jersey Institute of Technology, Saint Peter's University, The College of New Jersey and William Paterson University, and has extended its program to Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania and continues to grow.
The Give Back program involves much more than simply paying tuition and room and board. Historically, the organization has worked with select school districts, inviting freshmen to apply for entrance into the program, which, if successfully completed, will include a four-year scholarship to college. To qualify, these high-achieving students must be eligible for full Pell Grants and, if selected, must meet additional criteria, such as maintaining good grades, taking honors and AP courses and demonstrating admirable character. Upon high school graduation, students also must meet the college standard admissions requirements and be admitted to the school they have selected.
Aligns with Rowan mission
"We are honored that Give Something Back is entrusting Rowan University with another million-dollar gift to create access for talented young students to attend college," said Rowan's president, Dr. Ali Houshmand. "Mr. Carr's mission aligns perfectly with our commitment to make higher education more affordable and accessible for students in New Jersey."
"This is a generous and selfless contribution that is going to a very important cause," said Senate President Steve Sweeney. "College affordability and access to a higher education are among our top priorities. This is an investment in our future that will give students who have faced real adversity in life the ability to afford a quality education at one of our top universities. By 'giving back' to an important need, this will give students a real opportunity to make contributions of their own to society."
Carr recently launched a new payment-processing company, Beyond, that will help sustain Give Back for years to come. Give Back is the beneficiary of all of Carr's personal earnings in this venture and is the majority shareholder. "Simply by being our client, you help make a difference for students who have faced adversity," added Carr.
About Robert O. Carr
Robert O. Carr is the founder and CEO of Beyond, a company that strives to simplify operations, reduce costs and streamline payments for owners of small and mid-size businesses across the country. Carr was the founder and former chief executive officer of Heartland Payment Systems, a Fortune 1000 debit- and credit-card transaction company acquired by Global Payments in 2016 for more than $4.3 billion.
Having won plaudits for his technological prowess and ethical leadership, Carr has been honored as the Entrepreneur of the Year in the financial services category by Ernst and Young, as the top entrepreneur by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce and with a lifetime achievement award from the payments industry trade group. Businessweek published an article about what other companies could learn from him, and Jim Cramer, the host of the television show Mad Money, pointed to Carr's honest and straightforward approach as something businesses should emulate.
In March 2016, Carr was appointed by President Obama to a key White House post on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council. He also serves on the boards for BidPal, Ed Snider Youth Hockey and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership. He is the author of Through The Fires: An American Story of Turbulence, Business Triumph and Giving Back and Working Class to College: The Promise and Peril Facing Blue Collar America, both distributed by the University of Illinois Press.
For more information, visit