HBCU in Dallas putting twist on admissions, to end generational poverty

A historically Black college in Dallas is putting a new twist on admissions aimed at ending generational poverty.  It's telling new students they can bring their families.  

Starting this fall, Paul Quinn College is a private, historically Black college in Dallas is telling new students with a 3.0 GPA, who qualify for federal Pell grants, it will accept two of their friends or family members as well.

"My parents, my older siblings, who not even for monetary reasons, decided not to go to college," said Ricardo Ramirez, a senior at Dunbar Pyramid in the Fort Worth Independent School District (FWISD).

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Ramirez is one of 408 FWISD seniors who received letters of acceptance to Paul Quinn College, saying they can invite two friends or family members to pursue a certificate or degree as well.

"My father can use it to expand his business further," said Ramirez. "My brother could use it. Right now, he sells vehicles. So maybe he could open his own dealership, get a business degree."

"So many parents may not have that college background because of circumstances that have happened in their lives," said Rian Townsend, Executive Director of School Leadership for the FWISD's Dunbar Pyramid. "But now they have opportunity to say I lived for my kids, but my life isn’t over, too."

Paul Quinn College President, Dr. Michael Sorrell, says the family members don't have to meet any academic criteria and can enter a certificate or online programs.

"We’re going to allow you to start in a place you’re best prepared to succeed in," said Dr. Sorrell. "We have certificate programs. If we need to get you acclimated to school, let’s get you through some of the short-term certificate programs."

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The Village Program is aimed at ending intergenerational poverty by creating more career opportunities within families and alleviating pressure on one child to pull a family up.

"We ask in this country, students who come from low-income backgrounds, the least in resources, to be superheroes," said Dr. Sorrell.

They hope more colleges will follow suit.

"I plan to reach out to other colleges and say, what can we do for our students?" said Townsend.


"My kids, my grandkids, not just me, my brother, my sister, can help our older generation as well," said Ramirez.

As for tuition, Dr. Sorrell says family members of students who qualified for Pell Grants are likely to qualify for them as well.