North Central College - Naperville, IL

Website features North Central program that helps at-risk students

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Contact: Ted Slowik, Director of PR and Media Relations, 630-637-5307,

Sept. 23, 2010—A North Central College program that offers career support and financial aid to first-generation college students is featured in a new website that highlights successful initiatives at colleges and universities across the United States.

The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU) and Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) has launched a new website,, designed to highlight and support efforts by nonprofit private colleges and universities to increase the number of at-risk students they enroll and to boost the retention and graduation rates of various student populations.

The website is the central component of Blocking Blocks to 2020, a national initiative organized by NAICU and CIC to help the nation meet President Obama’s call to make the United States first in college completion by 2020.
The site features North Central College’s Teach First program, which provides mentoring, advocacy, peer support and financial aid to first-generation college students who plan to become teachers. While in college, participants gain valuable field experience working with children in high-need schools. Upon graduation, experienced educators continue providing mentoring, peer support and career guidance to first-year teachers.

The program was launched in 2008 when North Central was among just 20 institutions nationwide selected by the Council of Independent Colleges to receive a Wal-Mart College Success Award.

The Building Blocks to 2020 website will also serve as an information resource for consumers and policymakers who are interested in what colleges are doing to not only reach out to students from diverse backgrounds, but boost their chances of earning a degree. The website currently provides summaries of 535 existing or proposed programs at 250 nonprofit private colleges and universities. 

Up until about 10 years ago, the United States led the world in college completion. However, as the percentage of young adults with degrees has surged in other developed nations, the U.S. now ranks 12th in the percentage of adults ages 25 to 34 with an associate’s degree or higher, according to the College Board.

“Nonprofit private colleges are committed to doing their part to make the U.S. first in the world in college completion again and are redoubling their efforts to increase the number of graduates from all backgrounds,” said NAICU President David L. Warren. “Given the productivity of the nonprofit private sector in graduating students—we enroll 19 percent of all students, but award 26 percent of all degrees—our institutions will be a crucial part of helping the nation reach the 2020 goal.”

“For any group of students you want to follow—top students in high school, first-generation, low-income, high-income, or minority—nonprofit independent colleges have the best record of graduating students in timely fashion, thereby helping to fulfill President Obama’s goal that many more Americans will have high-quality college degrees,” said CIC President Richard Ekman.

In the next year, NAICU and CIC will ask all private colleges to report on their progress toward meeting self-identified goals in producing more college graduates; increasing graduation and/or retention rates; increasing success with at-risk students, and/or increasing graduates in areas of national need. The two associations will issue a milestone report summarizing the sector’s progress. NAICU and CIC will release additional milestone reports periodically.

NAICU is the premier advocacy association for the nation's private colleges and universities, with a membership of more than 1,000 private colleges and related associations. Member institutions include major research universities, church-related colleges, historically black colleges, traditional liberal arts and science institutions, women's colleges, two-year colleges, and schools of law, medicine, engineering, business and other professions. Nationally, more than three million students attend private colleges and universities. For more information, visit

CIC is an association of more than 600 independent, liberal arts colleges and universities and higher education affiliates and organizations that work together to strengthen college and university leadership, sustain high-quality education, and enhance private higher education's contributions to society. To fulfill this mission, CIC provides its members with skills, tools and knowledge that address aspects of leadership, financial management and performance, academic quality and institutional visibility. For more information, visit

Founded in 1861, North Central College is an independent, comprehensive college of the liberal arts and sciences that offers more than 55 undergraduate majors and graduate programming in six areas. Located in the Historic District of Naperville, Illinois—rated by Money magazine as among the nation’s “Best Places to Live”—North Central College is just 30 minutes from Chicago’s Loop. With more than 2,900 undergraduate and graduate students, North Central College is committed to academic excellence, a climate that emphasizes leadership, ethics, values and service, a curriculum that balances job-related knowledge with a liberal arts foundation and a caring environment with small classes.