News: NCAN News

College Possible’s Jim McCorkell Wins 2019 Executive Leadership Award of Excellence

Monday, September 16, 2019  
Posted by: Karen Lopez, Communications Intern
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Steve Smith, an NCAN board member and CEO of Intellispark, presents the 2019 Executive Leadership Award of Excellence to Jim McCorkell, CEO and founder of College Possible, at NCAN's 2019 National Conference in Indianapolis.

INDIANAPOLIS—Jim McCorkell, CEO and founder of College Possible, was awarded the Executive Leadership Award of Excellence today at NCAN’s 24th annual National Conference. This award recognizes the dedication and hard work of an individual serving as a college access program’s executive director, president, or as a member of its board of trustees or directors.

Mr. McCorkell founded NCAN member organization College Possible in 2000 and has served as its CEO ever since. In its early days, the organization served a group of 35 students in Minnesota. Today, College Possible has expanded its reach to serve 25,000 students in Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Pennsylvania.

Mr. McCorkell’s motivation for founding the organization derived from his personal experience as a first-generation student from a low-income background navigating the college admissions and financial aid processes. He now holds multiple degrees – including a Master’s of Public Administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government – and dedicates himself to creating a more equitable education system.

College Possible was founded on three fundamental beliefs:

  1. Many students from low-income backgrounds lack the resources to compete effectively for admission to colleges.
  2. Colleges want to admit students from low-income backgrounds but have difficulty in identifying and attracting them.
  3. Economic stability in the U.S. requires a diverse and highly educated workforce.

To put these beliefs into action, College Possible harnessed the power of the AmeriCorps service model for college access and success programming and has seen exceptional success.

Under Mr. McCorkell’s leadership, the Catalyze initiative was born to impact student persistence and success. Catalyze partnerships allow College Possible to embed its coaching near-peer model and curriculum on college campuses, expanding the organization’s impact across the country.

Prior to founding College Possible, Mr. McCorkell managed strategic development for City Year, a national nonprofit public service and youth development organization.

For the 2019 Executive Leadership Award of Excellence, Mr. McCorkell’s organization will receive $1,000 in support of a new, one-time scholarship to be made in his honor. The award was presented by Steve Smith, an NCAN board member and CEO of Intellispark. Past winners of this award include:

  • 2018: Bob Obrohta, Executive Director, Tennessee College Access and Success Network
  • 2017: Tim Herron, President, Degrees of Change
  • 2016: Austin Buchan, Executive Director, College Forward
  • 2015: Kim Mazzuca, 10,000 Degrees
  • 2014: Brandy Johnson, Michigan College Access Network
  • 2013: Faith A. Sandler, Executive Director, Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis
  • 2012: Nicole Farmer Hurd, Ph.D., Founder & Executive Director, College Advising Corps
  • 2011: Bonnie Sutton, Executive Director, Access College Foundation
  • 2010: Nancy Leopold, Executive Director, CollegeTracks
  • 2009: Monica Montenegro, Executive Director, East Bay Consortium / California Student Opportunity Assistance Program
  • 2008: Virginia "Ginny" Donohue, Executive Director, On Point for College
  • 2007: Andrea Cockrun, Chief Executive Officer, The Fulfillment Fund

NCAN solicits nominees from its membership for the annual Awards of Excellence in College Access and Success. A committee of NCAN members reviews all nominations, with final decisions confirmed by the NCAN board of directors. NCAN thanks the six members of the 2019 Awards Committee for their service:

  • Judith Lorimer, Options Center at Goddard Riverside
  • Cheryl Jones, ACCESS College Foundation
  • Jamie Covell, Iowa College Aid
  • Angel Garcia, Georgetown University Center for Multicultural Access & Equity
  • Bob Obrohta, TCASN
  • Kayla Boss, De LaSalle, Inc.