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Grant to help students achieve

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A $200,000 grant is funding efforts to help first-year students succeed in the coming school year.

For the second year, St. Cloud State University has received a College Success grant from the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation to assist students from traditionally underserved backgrounds in continuing their college education to sophomore year and beyond. The university was one of 19 that received some of the $2.7 million in grant funding from Great Lakes.

The grant is funding efforts to expand St. Cloud State’s Multicultural Student Services’ (MSS) survey assessment tool to reach students who need assistance earlier in the semester. The grant will allow MSS to provide the survey to faculty teaching first-year students of color weeks earlier than the rest of the survey’s target population. Peer mentors will work with faculty to help track student attendance, refer struggling students to resources and monitor classwork to ensure students are submitting required assignments.

“The grant will help serve students by getting them the academic support services that they need at an early opportunity,” said Shawn Kakuk, MSS assistant director. “By including faculty in this grant, we will be able to help students understand the importance of engaging faculty in their academic endeavors on a more impactful scale.”

Academic resources staff will use the grant funds to:

  • Move beyond email and meet face-to-face with students identified as struggling academically, who may otherwise not connect with academic support services
  • Add two academic intervention specialist positions that will work with faculty and peer mentors to connect students to existing available resources
  • Continue assessment opportunities and staff training throughout the academic year

It's a powerful tool that will not only help improve student of color retention but also allow the MSS office to continue collaborative efforts with other academic support services on campus, Kakuk said.

“With the ability for us to now work more closely with faculty, the students’ best interests are truly being served as the faculty are the backbone of our academic environment here at St. Cloud State University,” he said.

The grant follows a $299,999 College Success grant St. Cloud State received in 2013 to support students of color and first generation college students entering St. Cloud State with a high school grade point average of less than 3.0. St. Cloud State used the funds to hire three program coordinators and serve 154 students throughout the school year.

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