News & Events
MHC Receives $100,000 Grant for First-Gen Students
Mars Hill College has been named as one of three colleges in the state and twenty colleges in the nation to receive $100,000 in grant funding to help strengthen exemplary educational programs for first-generation students through the CIC/Walmart College Success Awards Program. An additional ten colleges will receive $50,000 in grant funding.
The awards are given through a competitive application process to member institutions of the Council of Independent Colleges. The newly selected 30 institutions will work together as a network with 20 initial College Success Award recipients (selected in June 2008) to assist first-generation college students, learn from one another, and serve as models for other colleges and universities.
According to Mars Hill College Title III Director Marshall Angle, Mars Hill College offers a number of initiatives aimed at providing research opportunities throughout the curriculum. This campus-wide emphasis on undergraduate research is tailored to first-generation students through Research FIRST, a program to increase the numbers of these students who participate in the college’s grant writing competition, SLAM (Student Liberal Arts Mosaic), the college’s campus-wide research & creativity symposium, and off-campus conference presentations. In addition, a special section of the college’s Freshman Seminar will orient first generation students to research at MHC, Angle said.
These initiatives, combined with small class sizes, and the personal attention available on a small campus like Mars Hill provides an optimum environment for first-generation students, he said.
“At Mars Hill, student-faculty research, independent of what happens in regular classrooms, greatly supports the college’s mission. The CIC/Walmart College Success Awards initiative offers an exciting opportunity to strengthen the college’s emphasis on research for first generation students,” he said.
CIC received a second grant of $3 million from the Walmart Foundation in 2009 to support the second cohort of award recipients. Twenty CIC member institutions with programs that show the greatest promise of increasing retention of the largest number of first-generation students were selected to receive grants of $100,000. Ten institutions that have established worthy projects with a smaller scope of impact or are more experimental in nature will receive $50,000 awards. All award winners have an undergraduate enrollment that includes at least 30 percent first-generation students among the most recent classes of first-year students.
“The 20 colleges and universities selected for the initial awards in 2008 have done a great job in rising to the challenges of retaining and graduating first-generation students,” said Walmart Foundation president Margaret McKenna. “The Walmart Foundation is proud to provide the opportunity for an additional 30 institutions to participate in the program and contribute to the growing body of knowledge on how best to support these students.”
In announcing the award winners, CIC President Richard Ekman said, “We are delighted by the recognition that this second grant from the Walmart Foundation gives to the role played by private colleges in educating first-generation students. Much attention has been focused recently on higher education as a key to making the United States workforce stronger and the country more competitive in the 21st century world economy. As the federal government and philanthropic leaders call for increased degree completion in higher education, small and mid-sized private institutions are an underutilized resource in this effort. Private colleges also enroll comparable or higher percentages of lower-income and first-generation students to public institutions and they require far less subsidy by state governments to succeed in meeting these national goals. Most importantly, small and mid-sized private institutions have moved beyond a focus on access to a record of unequalled success in retaining and graduating low-income and first-generation students.”
The Walmart College Success Awards program will include a conference in 2011, online networking opportunities, and a final publication on best practices from both cohorts to be disseminated at the end of the grant period in 2013.
The 20 $100,000 award winners are:
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.
The ten $50,000 award winners are:
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
For more information about the Walmart College Success Awards, visit the CIC website at www.cic.edu/projects_services/walmart_college_success.asp.
(May 19, 2010)