Filling the GAP for 20 Years

“It’s every parent’s dream that their children do better than themselves,” confided Luis Palencia who, with his wife, Rosa, comes from Guatemala.

URI is helping make the Palencia family’s dream come true. Their son, Chris, a junior at Rogers High School in Newport, was one of 147 high school students from seven urban high schools who signed a contract with Guaranteed Admissions Program this spring at our Feinstein Providence Campus. It was the largest group of students to sign the contract since Marcia Marker Feld of URI’s Urban Field Center and David Taggert, former dean of Admissions, developed the program two decades ago.

The program provides URI with a way to recruit and encourage students of color and students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Most are the first in their families to consider college as an option.

Students sign contracts in which they agree to take college preparatory courses, maintain B- averages, participate in summer programs and after school workshops, take college tours, and meet all URI admission requirements. In return, URI promises them places in the freshman class.

Cynthia Bonn, dean of Admission (right), the student’s high school principal, and the student’s parent or guardian also signs the contact.

URI’s Talent Development Program took GAP under its wing in 2004. Today, more than 500 students are in the GAP/TD program, which recently expanded to urban middle schools.

The core staff includes Gerald R. Williams, director; Joanna N. Ravello, assistant director; Marc D. Hardge, Sara Potter, Kevin A. Smith, and Debra L. Veloso; GAP/TD coordinators. In addition, GAP/TD recruits 35 to 40 Talent Development students to serve as mentors during fall and spring search weekends.