University of Lynchburg is one of 20 colleges nationwide and the only one in Virginia to receive a $100,000 Walmart College Success Award to assist first-generation college students, who comprise about 35 percent of the LC student population.
University of Lynchburg will use the Walmart award to strengthen its existing first-generation college student services, provide new services and financial assistance to ensure increased retention and graduation rates of these students, and participate in the network of colleges that are committed to student success for first-generation college students. First-generation students are defined as those whose parents have not graduated from college.
“First-generation college students may not have had family members who have navigated the college experience,” said Mari Normyle, assistant dean, Academic and Career Services. “This puts extra responsibility on the institution to provide more information to help meet their needs.”
The Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) and the Walmart Foundation announced the winners of the Walmart College Success Awards. A total of 30 CIC member colleges and universities, selected through a competitive application process, will receive grants.
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 $100,000 award winners are: Alma College, Alverno College, Berea College, Catawba College, Clark Atlanta University, College of Notre Dame of Maryland, DePaul University, Elizabethtown College, Franklin College, Guilford College, University of Lynchburg, Mars Hill College, Mercyhurst College, Mills College, Notre Dame de Namur University, Rosemont College, Stetson University, Stevenson University, Thomas College, and University of St. Francis.
The ten $50,000 award winners are: Cardinal Stritch University, Chaminade University of Honolulu, Defiance College, Emmanuel College, Eureka College, Heritage University, McKendree University, Saint Augustine’s College, Wabash College, and Woodbury University.
The programs offered at these 30 institutions represent the wide range of approaches to working with first-generation students.
LC’s new program, called Expanding Your Horizons at University of Lynchburg,will focus on 120 first-generation students over a two-year period (60 freshmen per year). The program will include a two-day retreat at Claytor Nature Study Center; special courses including study strategies, career development, and outdoor recreation and leadership; and peer mentoring.
During the sophomore year, emphasis will be placed on developing career strategies and gaining practical experience. The first cohort of 60 students will be eligible for up to $750 in grant support for tuition, travel, research supplies, registration fees, and books to be used for experiential learning activities. Opportunities will include internships, study abroad, conference attendance, international and community service-learning, student-faculty research, community-based research, and leadership training. LC hopes to continue the experiential program with additional sources of funding.
For more information, contact Shannon Brennan, director of media relations, at 434-544-8609.