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Catawba College Gets $100,000 Grant to Help Retain First-Generation College Students

June 10, 2010

Category: Academics, Students

Catawba College has applied and been awarded a $100,000 grant to help strengthen its programs that support the education of first-generation college students.


Council of Independent Colleges
Catawba was one of 30 Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) member colleges and universities selected through a competitive application process to receive the grants funded by the Walmart Foundation to receive 2010 CIC/Walmart College Success Awards. All of the award recipients have undergraduate enrollment that includes at least 30 percent first-generation students among the most recent classes of first-year students.

Catawba College will use its award to fund its NextGen Project to build cultural and social capital of first-generation students. This project builds on existing programs in three areas: training and developing faculty and staff who work with first year students, the NextGen FYS section and targeted outreach to families of first generation students. Faculty and staff will participate in a summer development workshop to discuss readings about the needs of first generation students led by a consultant who is an expert in the field. Incoming students who meet the first generation criteria have the opportunity to enroll in the NextGen FYS, taught by Associate Professor of Sociology Dr. Maria Vandergriff-Avery, who is a first-generation college graduate. This course, "First in the Family," will include content specific to the needs of first-generation students along with intensive and targeted co-curricular support such as assignments to use the Writing Center and Career Services and Academic Support. Social and cultural capital of first-generation students will be further developed in part by fully funded travel to Washington, D.C. during the winter term following their first fall semester. NextGen students will visit Washington area museums, historical sites, government offices and Catawba College alumni. The NextGen FYS First-generation students and their families will also participate in expanded orientation activities, receive enhanced versions of the student handbook and calendar and communicate frequently with the NextGen FYS instructor and staff members.


First Generation Students
Meet the Students

"The authors of the grant proposal are thrilled to be able to provide an enriched experience for first-generation students. Among our greatest alumni success stories are students who came to Catawba as the first in their families to attend college, and we can carry that legacy into the future. In fact, many of our faculty are themselves first-generation college students eager to pitch in. This is a great opportunity to fulfill our purpose of helping all students achieve the full measure of their promise," noted Catawba College Associate Provost Dr. Carl Girelli.

"From one point of view this kind of programming is exactly in line with Catawba College's historic mission. What is new is the commitment of our partners, Walmart and CIC, to resource these students, their families, and colleges like Catawba," explained Catawba College Provost Dr. W. Richard "Rick" Stephens, Jr. "While access and affordability are part of any higher education equation, the faculty, staff, and administration of Catawba College are just as clearly committed to success on the part of each and every student who chooses to attend. To this end, the opportunities created by the generosity of Walmart and the CIC will be put to good effect."   

Catawba was among 20 institutions that were $100,000 award recipients, including Alma College, MI; Alverno College, WI; Berea College, KY; Catawba College, NC; Clark Atlanta University, GA; College of Notre Dame of Maryland; DePaul University, IL; Elizabethtown College, PA; Franklin College, IN; Guilford College, NC; Lynchburg College, VA; Mars Hill College, NC; Mercyhurst College, PA; Mills College, CA; Notre Dame de Namur University, CA; Rosemont College, PA; Stetson University, FL; Stevenson University, MD; Thomas College, ME; and University of St. Francis, IL.

Ten institutions received $50,000 awards, including Cardinal Stritch University, WI; Chaminade University of Honolulu, HI; Defiance College, OH; Emmanuel College, MA; Eureka College, IL; Heritage University, WA; McKendree University, IL; Saint Augustine's College, NC; Wabash College, IN; and Woodbury University, CA.

The programs offered at these 30 institutions represent the wide range of approaches to working with first-generation students. Some institutions focus on the unique needs of a particular subset of first-generation students, such as Hispanic students, commuter students, transfer students from community colleges, or students pursuing a teaching career. A number of the award recipients offer transitional summer programs for incoming students that help prepare them for college-level work and life away from home. Others provide services such as mentoring, tutoring, career development, and providing scholarships and stipends to help ensure success for first-generation students.

The CIC/Walmart College Success Awards program will include a conference in 2011, online networking opportunities, and a final publication on best practices from cohorts to be disseminated at the end of the grant period in 2013.

For more information about the Walmart College Success Awards and the programs of the 30 winners, visit the CIC website.


BlogBLOG: First Generation Students Go to D.C.




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