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John Jay's ACE Program To Welcome a Third Cohort With Support From The Mayor's Office for Economic Opportunity and The Laura and John Arnold Foundation

May 3, 2018

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May 3, 2018
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NEW YORK, The Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity (NYC Opportunity) is providing increased support for the Accelerate, Complete and Engage (ACE) cohort at CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice by funding an additional 275-to-300 students for up to five years. The program is designed to improve students’ persistence in collegiate programs, raise graduation rates and help young people reach their full potential.

The ACE program is the baccalaureate model of CUNY’s highly successful ASAP (Accelerated Study in Associate Programs). The ASAP program doubled graduation rates and is a nationally recognized model. Just as ASAP aims to graduate at least half of its students within three years – a goal it has consistently exceeded – ACE aims to double the current graduate rate of its students to at least 50 percent within four years and 65 percent within five years. NYC Opportunity provided CUNY ASAP’s first funding, and is closely engaged in the work of both ASAP and ACE. A college degree substantially increases earnings and reduces the likelihood of experiencing poverty, making it a key aspect of making New York City a fairer and more equitable city.

ACE provides the same proven system of comprehensive support as ASAP, including dedicated academic advisement, career development counseling, as well as financial support such as tuition gap waivers, winter and summer session scholarships, unlimited MetroCards, and textbook vouchers. The program requires internships in the junior and senior years, and offers 14 majors for full-time study at John Jay. This type of programming evens the playing field for all students by providing access to supportive services that help ensure graduation.

CUNY received funding from the Robin Hood Foundation to launch the ACE pilot cohort of 250 students in fall 2015, and NYC Opportunity and the Jewish Foundation for the Education of Women supported a second cohort in fall 2017. With the addition of this third cohort, NYC Opportunity’s support totals more than $9.5 million for the ACE program, and the addition of the new cohort brings the total number of students served to 894. Additionally, through the support of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, CUNY and Metis Associates will conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) of this new ACE cohort.

“My top priority is our students’ success, and I'm encouraged that the early data shows that ACE has significant promise for improving retention and completion rates,” says John Jay College President Karol V. Mason. “Being the first four-year CUNY college to initiate the ACE program gives me great pride, and I’m grateful for the support of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, the Arnold Foundation and CUNY so that we can expand and study this program and help more ACE students stay firmly on track to graduate from John Jay in four years.”

“We are strongly committed to college success as an important anti-poverty strategy, and are excited about the potential of ACE to dramatically increase graduate rates,” said Matthew Klein, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. “We are proud to increase our support for ACE after its promising start, and look forward to learning whether its comprehensive model can achieve as much success at the baccalaureate level as CUNY ASAP has had at the associate level.”

“We know that having a college degree means higher earnings and a lower likelihood of experiencing poverty, so it is important that we remove obstacles that too often prevent students from pursuing higher education or staying on track to graduate” said Carson Hicks, Deputy Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. “ACE provides a foundation and resources that help young people earn their baccalaureate degrees. By funding a third cohort of ACE, NYC Opportunity is investing in our city’s future.”

Preliminary analysis of outcomes for the first ACE cohort demonstrates excellent progress toward timely graduation. Fall 2015 ACE students have higher retention rates, and take and earn more credits than similar John Jay students who are not enrolled in the program. As of fall 2017, 65 percent of the fall 2015 ACE cohort were on track to graduate within four years (based on credit accumulation and academic standing) vs. 37 percent of statistically matched comparison students. Achievement gaps appear to be narrowing between race subgroups in the areas of retention, credits attempted/earned, and being on track to graduate within four years.

ACE has been so successful that students who started as freshmen three years ago are graduating earlier than expected this May, as part of the class of 2018. These graduating students have diverse interests and career plans, and have accepted positions at the New York Police Department and Queens County District Attorney’s Office, enrolled in graduate school for social work, and are entering the fields of law, healthcare, and public service.

One of those students is Abidur Rahman, who is graduating early thanks to the ACE program. The program helped him enroll in summer classes and finish his bachelor’s degree in just three years. Because of ACE, Rahman received financial support that he says played a crucial role in helping him complete his education. As a Law and Society major and a New York City native, Rahman is passionate about learning the law to help empower local marginalized communities. his involvement with the Pre-Law Institute at John Jay, he recently completed an internship at Bronx County Family Court that radically changed his perception of the legal field.

“In Hollywood, you usually see white men in courtrooms, but the judge was a Puerto Rican woman,” Rahman said. “Seeing her work with parents rather than just punishing them inspired me. Being a judge in a family court is now one of my highest ambitions.”

The City University of New York
The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in 1847, CUNY counts 13 Nobel Prize and 23 MacArthur (“Genius”) grant winners among its alumni. CUNY students, alumni and faculty have garnered scores of other prestigious honors over the years in recognition of historic contributions to the advancement of the sciences, business, the arts and myriad other fields. The University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, CUNY Graduate Center, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, CUNY School of Law, CUNY School of Professional Studies and CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 272,000 degree-seeking students. CUNY offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies.

John Jay College
An international leader in educating for justice, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and a Minority-Serving Institution offering a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. John Jay is home to faculty and research centers at the forefront of researching and advancing criminal and social justice reform. In teaching, scholarship and research, the College engages the theme of justice and explores fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law. For more information, visit

The Mayor's Office for Economic Opportunity
The Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity (NYC Opportunity) uses evidence and innovation to reduce poverty and increase equity. It advances research, data and design in the City’s program and policy development, service delivery, and budget decisions. NYC Opportunity’s work includes analyzing existing anti-poverty approaches, developing new interventions, facilitating the sharing of data across City agencies, and rigorously assessing the impact of key initiatives. NYC Opportunity manages a discrete fund and works collaboratively with City agencies to design, test and oversee new programs and digital products. It also produces research and analysis of poverty and social conditions, including its influential annual Poverty Measure, which provides a more accurate and comprehensive picture of poverty in New York City than the federal rate.