Strengthening the pipeline of diverse talent
The McCourt School seeks to reduce the student loan debt that too often precludes public service. By directing $50 million of his investment to financial aid and scholarships for McCourt School students, Frank McCourt is making a critical down payment on the effort to reduce the financial barriers to a policy education.
“Our dream and our goal for the McCourt School is that every student will be able to graduate and enter public service careers without the burden of loans,” McCourt says.
“A school of public policy is a collection of people who believe that the critical problems we face can only be solved through working together,” says McCourt School Dean Maria Cancian, adding that tomorrow’s leaders must recognize our interdependence so they can work across differences to solve intractable problems.
And they must come from a wide array of backgrounds and perspectives, to ensure diversity of thought and experience, emphasizes Cancian. “It’s absolutely critical for the McCourt School to have people from urban and rural environments, to have people who are conservative and progressive, to have people who come from a variety of lived experience, to have people who are from underrepresented racial and ethnic communities.
“Having greater financial aid will both allow us to attract a broader set of students, and also allow us to graduate students with the ability to go out and work for the common good,” Cancian adds.
Most immediately, Frank McCourt’s investment in the McCourt School will enable participants in the National Urban Fellows (NUF) program to attend tuition-free in the 2021-22 academic year. In 2018, the McCourt School was selected as the sole academic home of the 50-year-old NUF graduate program dedicated to developing mid-career professionals, especially people of color, to be leaders and change agents in the public and nonprofit sectors. In August 2020, the NUF-McCourt School partnership graduated its first cohort of Master of Policy Management students—overwhelmingly first-generation college graduates.
Given what the McCourt School is striving to accomplish when it comes to accessibility and service to others, the National Urban Fellows Program is a natural partner to drive that mission forward, says Lisa Rawlings, the program’s president and CEO. “This partnership has been wonderful in that we’re both aligned philosophically with a strong commitment to social justice; we both have strong beliefs in inclusion.”
With the new investment, the McCourt School looks forward to deepening its collaboration with NUF and other organizations that share Georgetown’s dedication to building a pipeline of changemakers across the many dimensions of diversity.
Since its founding, the school has forged a number of partnerships with institutions such as Howard University, Lead for America, COLFUTURO, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all of which strengthen McCourt classrooms with a diversity of perspective and lived experience.
“All these people, who come with different sets of experiences and contribute in different ways, have amazing interactions both inside the classroom and outside the classroom that really enrich everything that we do,” Cancian says, adding that the school looks forward to identifying additional collaborators.