Urban College of Boston celebrates 20th anniversary with 134 grads on June 2!

Jane Oates, former U.S. Assistant Secretary for Employment & Training, is Commencement Speaker

 The college that provides a second chance for low-income learners


Urban College of Boston will celebrate the commencement of 134 students on June 2 at the Emerson Majestic Theater in downtown Boston. The graduates, primarily working adults from low-income neighborhoods in Boston and surrounding cities and towns, will receive Associate Degrees and Certificates of Achievement.

This year’s commencement also celebrates 20 years since the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education voted to charter Urban College of Boston as an independent higher education institution! That vote was a landmark occurrence as Urban College became the first college in the nation to be founded by an antipoverty agency (Action for Boston Community Development) with the mission of providing higher education opportunities to residents who are “underserved” by traditional colleges.


Jane Oates, Assistant Secretary for Employment & Training, DOL, is commencement speaker

Jane Oates, Assistant Secretary for Employment & Training, U.S. Department of Labor, will deliver the commencement address. Oates is well-known in Massachusetts for her role as Senior Policy Adviser for celebrated Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy on the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions from 1997 to 2006.  Before joining the Department of Labor, she served as Executive Director of the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education and Senior Advisor to Governor Jon S. Corzine from 2006 to 2009.

“We are so proud to have Jane Oates with us to celebrate our outstanding UCB graduates,” said Michael Taylor, President, Urban College of Boston. “For decades she has been at the forefront of policy making directed at issues of education and career development. She has played a huge role in providing people in need with access to jobs and brighter futures. I can’t think of anyone for whom the mission of the Urban College of Boston is more relevant! We are honored to welcome Secretary Oates as the 2013 UCB Commencement Speaker!”

Honorary Degrees to First Ladies Diane Patrick and Angela Menino                                                                          

UCB will award Honorary Degrees to Diane Patrick, partner, Ropes & Gray and First Lady of the Commonwealth and Angela Menino, First Lady of Massachusetts, for their devoted service to the children of Boston and Massachusetts.

Significant recent achievements at UCB                                                                                                

This semester Urban College recorded the highest registration numbers in its 20-year history – a 43 percent increase – and new student enrollment stands at the highest in a decade at 110 percent. The college recently received a $200,000 grant from the Lloyd G. Balfour Foundation, one of the largest unrestricted grants in UCB’s history, along with other major contributions.                                                                                                                                                          

Filling a niche in higher education for 20 years

“Since its founding in 1993, Urban College has filled a special niche in the higher education arena by successfully providing people from disadvantaged backgrounds with the opportunity to succeed in college,” President Taylor said.

He noted that Urban College graduates have persevered against all odds to earn their degrees and are going forth to make a difference in their communities and the world. “We know that access to higher education and career-oriented job skills means a pathway out of poverty for many inner-city residents who are unemployed or struggling to care for families in minimum wage jobs,” he said.

 Many Urban College graduates never expected to go to college. Most have children and are low-income working people who juggle the demands of college with jobs, child care and household responsibilities. The average UCB graduate is 35-years-old. The majority of graduates raised families and worked full-time while taking one or two courses a semester to earn their degrees. Many persevered at their studies for five to seven years before graduating. Their life-enhancing accomplishments are celebrated at the graduation with nearly 1,000 extended family members – from small children to aging parents and grandparents – cheering them on.


About Urban College

The Urban College of Boston www.urbancollege.edu is an independent two-year college and the first in the nation to be established by an antipoverty agency, Action for Boston Community Development, Inc. (ABCD). The mission of the Urban College is to provide higher education opportunities to residents who are “underserved” by traditional colleges within a supportive environment and a curriculum that emphasizes career preparation and skill development. More than 900 students are served annually at Urban College and the student body reflects the ethnic diversity of Boston’s urban neighborhoods. Many students are the first in their families to attend college. As one student stated, “Students at the Urban College are people who didn’t just assume they would go to college. They are here against all odds.”

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