The President’s Challenge Scholarship (PCS), in Honor of President Emeritus Robert T. Brown assists Ulster County first-generation college students with overcoming socio-economic barriers associated with attending college. A six-year program, students are selected in eighth grade and are provided mentorship and educational tools to help make higher education attainable. Upon graduation, students have the skills required to be college-ready and attend SUNY Ulster tuition-free for two years.
PCS, an award-winning program, was launched in 2016 at Rondout Valley Central School District with six students and was supported by a community of donors. Today, we have grown our donor base and nearly 300 students have been awarded scholarships in all nine Ulster County school districts. The program aims to support an additional 50 college-bound students annually with preference given to students with financial need.
SUNY Ulster President Emeritus Dr. Alan P. Roberts established PCS in May of 2016 to assist at-risk college-bound
high school students with a two-year, tuition-free, community college education upon
their graduation from high school and enrollment at SUNY Ulster.
In Honor of SUNY Ulster President Emeritus Robert T. Brown
In May of 2017, the President’s Challenge Scholarship was dedicated in Honor of President Emeritus Robert T. Brown.
Bob held the position of President of Ulster County Community College for twenty-four years and served on the Board of the Ulster Community College Foundation, Inc. from 1982 to 2005, at which time he was appointed Director Emeritus for his many years of service and leadership. Bob returned to the Foundation Board for three consecutive 3-year terms before resigning from the board in 2016.
The Foundation Board of Directors acknowledges Bob Brown’s extraordinary leadership, service, and advocacy on behalf of accessible higher education and, in particular, community college education having served as SUNY’s first Vice Chancellor for community colleges and having helped to create a strategic plan for community colleges.
In 2016, Bob generously contributed to this scholarship’s administration fund to help
launch the PCS initiative.
The Darlene L. Pfeiffer Student Experience Endowment supports the administration of the motivational and college readiness programming for PCS students throughout high school. Starting in 9th grade, PCS recipients visit the SUNY Ulster campus twice per year. During their first visit, students get their PCS ID cards and make a commitment to themselves and the program by taking the PCS Promise. Students also connect with PCS sponsors at these events, supporting their growth and providing an additional level of engagement.
Students begin their mentorship experience with a PCS College Coach (composed of members of the SUNY Ulster Enrollment and Success Center team) and a Club Advisor at their home school district. College Coaches, assigned to support PCS students from a participating high school, meet with students on campus and at the schools. In addition to motivating students to remain on the college-bound track, the PCS College Coach will assist with college readiness skills like academic planning, communication, and career exploration, as well as other engagement and growth opportunities as the program expands.
The Club Advisor meets regularly with students while working closely with SUNY Ulster’s College Mentor and President’s Challenge Scholarship Program Coordinator on the student experience and support needs. The Club Advisor offers consistent mentoring for students within the schools and facilitates engagement with fellow recipients in a constructive way. We hope to have all school districts participate in the Club Advisor initiative starting in the Fall of 2023.
Students who are selected for PCS may qualify for other scholarships or programs in
the future. The PCS is a two-year tuition scholarship at SUNY Ulster. In the event
a student qualifies for additional scholarships, the Board of Directors of the Ulster
Community College Foundation, Inc. has granted the authority to redirect the scholarship funding to books, fees, transportation
or other costs associated with the student’s education. If funds still remain available
after these fees are paid, then the remaining funds can be made available to other
PCS students, in the same school district, who have “Taken the Challenge.”
Students best suited for the PCS Program are those that have potential to succeed but may need additional mentoring and support to stay on the college-bound track. Students that may have limited support at home, are caring for younger siblings, or have overcome challenging life situations are great candidates for PCS. Given PCS is a 2-year tuition-free scholarship, students who may not have the opportunity to attend college based on family finances also make great candidates for the program.
Students who will be the first in their family to attend college should submit an application and essay prior to the deadline set by the school district, which is generally in the spring of a student’s eighth-grade year. Each school reviews the application materials and identifies the top 10 candidates for their district. The school district invites these candidates to participate in a brief interview at the high school with members of the school district and SUNY Ulster who serve as the Interview Committee. The Interview Committee then selects five scholarship recipients. The school district notifies scholarship recipients shortly after their interview. SUNY Ulster presents recipients with their scholarship awards at their Moving-Up Ceremony in June.
PCS recipients participate in activities on the SUNY Ulster Campus, at their high
schools and online starting in 9th grade and throughout high school to support college
readiness. Upon graduation from high school, students attend SUNY Ulster tuition-free
for two years!
The cost to sponsor a student’s two-year tuition at SUNY Ulster within this scholarship program is $7,200. Donors make a one-time payment or may fund their scholarship in four (4) annual payments of $1,800.
Groups of donors may also co-sponsor a student. Each member of the group can decide how they would like to make their donation (in full or in four annual payments). Please see group sponsorship options below:
A sponsorship shared by two individuals/couples is $3,600 each (and can be paid annually for four years at $900 per year).
A sponsorship shared by three individuals/couples is $2,400 each (and can be paid
annually for four years at $600 per year).
Those interested in sponsoring a student are asked to sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)/pledge form. The MOA requires sponsors to name their scholarship and identify which school district they wish to support. Sponsors can choose to make their gift/donation when they execute the MOA or at a later date. Pledge payments can be made online or by check made out to the Ulster Community College Foundation, Inc.
To request an MOA for a student sponsorship, please reach out to the President’s Challenge
Scholarship Program Coordinator at 845.688.1927 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
The first pledge payment is due at the time of the execution of the Memorandum of
Agreement (MOA)/pledge form or by another arrangement made by the Ulster Community
College Foundation, Inc. given the donor’s personal giving plan for that year as long
as it is prior to June 1st.
The sponsor may donate their portion of the commitment and subsequently file for corporate
match opportunities. All funds shall apply to the sponsor’s initial pledge unless
otherwise noted by the sponsor.
This scholarship will cover any remaining tuition after non-loan financial aid is applied. If funding remains, it may also be used to cover fees, books, technology, and other academic needs that a student may have when attending college. Students may also request assistance with transportation or meal expenses.
Remaining scholarship proceeds, if any, may also be redirected to another student in need, usually in the same school district.
Scholarship awards are presented to students at their eighth-grade Moving-Up Ceremonies in June. Later that summer, sponsors will receive more information about their student(s).
Sponsors will have an opportunity to meet their students at PCS events in the fall and spring. Events are held on the SUNY Ulster Campus.
PCS students need to attend an Ulster County high school to remain in the program. If a student moves and is no longer able to participate in the program, the scholarship is offered to a runner-up from that high school from the same year as the previous recipient (if possible) or to another student from that school district.