National Recognition Programs Update

“The National Recognition Programs were created to take a tangible step toward addressing the systemic barriers to higher education faced by underrepresented students,” Arielle Ford, Director, Strategic Engagement and Programs, said during her Forum presentation.

The origin of the Recognition Programs is the National Hispanic Recognition Program, which College Board launched 38 years ago to increase access to higher education for academically competitive Latino students by awarding them academic honors that can be included on college and scholarship applications. Research showed that awarded students who also opted into Student Search Service had improved college enrollment and received additional funding. The first program’s success led College Board to expand the Recognition Programs in 2019 to include African American Recognition, Indigenous Recognition, and Rural/Small Town Recognition.

Two cohorts have since received honors from the expanded programs. This year, 32,552 students earned honors from the National Recognition Programs.

“This work is about building connections between students and higher ed institutions,” Ford said. “It’s also about growing awareness and exposing students to schools that they may not have otherwise been aware of. We want these programs to create pathways to college for underrepresented students and we want awardees to explore a diverse set of college options.”

In addition to receiving academic honors that can be included in college and scholarship applications, awardees will also receive personalized outreach from colleges if they opt into Student Search. Search allows institutions to find awardees and conduct intentional, tailored outreach to students, encouraging them to apply to colleges and specific scholarships based on their Recognition Program honor. Students can also receive information about scholarships they qualify for and receive invitations to pre-college recruitment events.