EOF's history is rooted in the civil rights movement. Through protests and legislative advocacy, young students used their voices to earn access to educational opportunities.
In November 1967, in the aftermath the Newark riots, New Jersey's Chancellor of Higher Education, Ralph A. Dungan, directed a memorandum to the presidents of all of the state's higher education institutions. He proposed a program of special assistance to young men and women from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds.
The Select Commission on Civil Disorders (the Lilly Commission) made its report to the Governor and to the New Jersey State Legislature, calling for a broad range of programs to address the basic conditions that contributed to the protests. Among those programs was the Educational Opportunity Fund, established by legislation in 1968, sponsored by legislator Thomas Kean.
EOF set the pace for many initiatives which are widely incorporated into college life. Among the many powerful strategies implemented by EOF are precollege articulation, basic skills testing and remediation, systematic retention efforts, peer counseling and peer tutoring, academic support courses, multicultural curricula and human relations programming, student leadership development, and outcomes-based program evaluation.
Today, the EOF program serves low-income, first-generation students who have demonstrated commitment, motivation, and potential for success in every county of the state.