CRANFORD, NJ - Launched five years ago, the Union County College Foundation's 'Close the Gap' campaign is designed to accelerate the pace of African American student success. The initiative has helped yield a graduation rate for male African-American students that has more the quadrupled at Union County College.

To support the campaign, Union County College will host its annual 'Close the Gap Cocktail Party' on July 15 at 6 p.m. This year, the event will 'virtually honor' Sandra Rice, Senior Vice President at the Center for Talent Innovations and also feature celebrity bartender, Al B. Sure! along with Julliard trained jazz pianist, Isaiah Thompson. 

Rice is one of three community members who approached the Union County College Foundation in 2014 about the educational outcomes concerning the College’s African-American students. From these early discussions, the 'Close the Gap' campaign was born.

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“Since 2015, this campaign has had one of the greatest impacts on student success in the state," said Doug Rouse, Foundation Executive Director. "With exponential growth in the graduation rates as well as the increase in retention for African-American students, the 'Close the Gap' campaign is truly accelerating the pace of student success. Without Sandra’s leadership and support, our ability to move the needle on educational outcomes would be diminished.”

Those interested supporting the 'Close the Gap Virtual Cocktail Party' can visit To learn more about how one can make a difference in a student’s life, call the Union County College Foundation at 908-709-7505 or contact