Cowen Institute takes first step in expanding mission, improving lives of New Orleans youth


Photo provided by The Cowen Institute

The Cowen Institute’s new research initiative aims to help New Orleans students with college and career readiness.

For 10 years, the Cowen Institute has aimed to improve public education in the greater New Orleans area. In November, the organization received an opportunity to expand on its work with the hope it will help New Orleans public school students beyond K-12 education. The Institute’s new research initiative is a necessary step that will be a great service to the public school system in the city.

Last November, the Institute received a $500,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. According to Institute Executive Director Amanda Hill, the money from this generous grant will go toward research and data analysis of post-secondary education of New Orleans public school students. With that information, the Cowen Institute will be able to determine how it can improve conditions for students beyond education.

Photo provided by The Cowen Institute
The Cowen Institute has been striving to help improve public education in New Orleans for 10 years.

Hill said she hopes the results from this research will offer ideas for how New Orleans can help socioeconomically disadvantaged students not only get into college, but graduate and prepare for a career.

“… Our thought was we can’t stop at 12th grade,” Hill said. “We really do need to support young people beyond that.”

Statistics regarding education in New Orleans reflect Hill’s sentiment. According to the 2016 New Orleans Youth Index from The Data Center, 75 percent of students in New Orleans graduate from high school. Approximately 37 percent of them enroll in four-year colleges, and only about 13 percent obtain a bachelor’s degree.

These numbers make the Cowen Institute’s expanded mission more important than ever. It is critical to know where New Orleans students go after high school in order to assess the quality of education in the city. Analyzing the data regarding post-secondary outcomes in New Orleans youth is a step in the right direction for enhancing public education, which would in turn improve chances of college enrollment and career readiness for New Orleans’s students.

Education is a necessity and a key element for success in life. It is important that we not neglect what happens to students after they graduate from high school. This research initiative is an important step to help students beyond school so they can succeed in college and beyond. We can no longer ignore the existing discrepancies in college and career readiness.

Hill said an important part of the Cowen Institute’s initiative will be the combined effort of educators, city officials, non-profits and any other organizations with an interest in improving education. Next December, the Institute will be hosting a convening where it will share the results of the research and discuss potential policy proposals to help students in New Orleans. This convening is essential because it will allow the Cowen Institute to engage with the community and get others involved in this process.

“It’s really about mobilizing a collective effort to support young people and also to maybe shift policy and increase financing for college,” Hill said.

Though having a collective effort is essential for this initiative, Hill admits it also might be challenging. So far, however, the Institute has received widespread support since announcing this initiative. Professionals from several different backgrounds, but mostly in education, are excited about this project. For these individuals to express positivity toward the Cowen Institute is a sign that Hill and her team should be able to mobilize the community effectively.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Daniel is a senior at Newcomb-Tulane College. He can be reached at [email protected]

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