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BSU to receive $100,000 grant

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Published on: Wednesday, March 31, 2010

By Michelle J. Nealy

Bowie State University was selected by the Institute for Higher Education Policy to receive a $100,000 grant to advance their efforts in enrolling, retaining and graduating first-generation college students.

Bowie State was among 30 other minority-serving institutions

selected to receive an award. Minority-serving institutions include historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and tribal colleges and universities. 

Approximately 41 percent of students enrolled at minority-serving institutions are first-generation or the first in their families to attend college. Only 30 percent of students at predominantly white institutions fall into the first-generation category, according to data from the National Center for Education Statistics’ National Post-Secondary Student Aid study. 

The Institute for Higher Education Policy’s mission is to increase access and success in college education for underrepresented student populations. Bowie State University’s demonstrated commitment to cultivating successful first-generation students made them ripe for the award, organization officials said. 

“Bowie State’s institutional data shows that their work with first-generation students through the TRIO Student Support Services has helped to close the graduation gap for participating first-generation students, when compared to first-generation students not participating in Student Support Services’ activities,” said Michelle Asha Cooper, president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy.

The award was made possible by a $4.2 million grant to the Institute for Higher Education Policy from The Wal-Mart Foundation. The Wal-Mart Foundation is supporting the work of minority-serving institutions by helping to strengthen first-generation student success programs.

More than 35 percent of Bowie State’s students are first generation. These students must be carefully monitored, school officials said.

The majority of first generation students are targeted by the university’s the Student Support Services TRIO Achievers Program, an educational program that assists students in meeting basic college requirements.

“First-generation students are typically less likely to be academically prepared than their peers who have parents with bachelor’s or advanced degrees,” said Monica N. Turner, director of the Student Support Services TRIO Achievers Program. “They can be easily intimidated by the level of academic performance expected by college faculty.”

To make the transition from high school to college more manageable, BSU established Scholars’ Studio, a faculty think tank designed to equip professors with the tools they need to improve learning outcomes for first-generation students.

Turner hopes that the Wal-Mart-funded grant will build on the university’s gains by educating more faculty on the needs of first-generation students.

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