Washington, D.C., Oct. 14, 2008—The Wal-Mart Foundation announced today that it is making support for first-generation college students a top priority for its higher education-focused philanthropy. The announcement was made by Wal-Mart Foundation President Margaret McKenna during a speech at a meeting of the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) in New York. As part of her speech, McKenna announced a $4.2 million grant to the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), which will support programs to increase first-generation student success at minority-serving institutions, including historically black colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutions, and tribal colleges and universities.
“At Wal-Mart, we understand that education is critical to the lives and well-being of all Americans. We are pleased to focus much of our recent giving on supporting the success of first-generation college students,” said McKenna. “These grants will serve to increase access to young people to get the quality education they need to be successful today and become the leaders we need in the future,” added McKenna.
The Wal-Mart Foundation’s grant to IHEP – which totals $4.2 million—will award 30 colleges, grants of $100,000 in order to improve student retention and academic success. Selected institutions will also benefit from staff and consultant support and participation in the IHEP Summer Academy to share their progress and program evaluation.
"Minority-serving institutions, in addition to their vital role of educating more than a third of the nation's students of color, are playing an increasingly important role in educating first generation students," said IHEP President Michelle Asha Cooper, Ph.D. "The Wal-Mart Foundation's support will be key to building additional capacity for participating institutions to craft cohesive academic success programs for this critical student population."
The Wal-Mart Foundation’s recent support of first-generation college students also includes a grant to the Council of Independent Colleges. This $2.26 million grant supports the organization’s “College Success Awards” program. The program provides $100,000 grants to 20 competitively selected CIC institutional members that have developed expertise with educating first-generation students and ensuring their success.
According to CIC President Richard Ekman, “We are delighted with the Wal-Mart Foundation’s recognition of the superb record of smaller private colleges and universities in attracting, educating, and graduating first-generation students within four years.”
Additionally, the Wal-Mart Foundation recently announced a $1.49 million grant to Excelencia in Education. This grant will support Growing What Works, a new national initiative designed to replicate effective programs to increase Latino student success at the associate and bachelor levels.
“Support from the Wal-Mart Foundation will provide critical resources to twenty institutions to implement educational strategies with proven results for today’s Latino college students -- many of whom are the first members of their family to attend college,” said Sarita Brown, Excelencia in Education President.
Other higher education-based grants supported by the Wal-Mart Foundation in 2008 include:
- Scholarship America – A recent $500,000 grant will support the organization’s Dreamkeepers Emergency Financial Assistance program. The program provides students with emergency funding to allow them to remain in school and obtain a post-secondary education.
- The Foundation for Independent Higher Education – A recent $500,000 grant will support the First Opportunity Partners Venture Fund, a national initiative that helps to increase the access and success of first-generation, low-income and minority students in higher education.
- American Council on Education – A recent grant of $250,000 will allow the American Council on Education to provide individualized academic advising to returning military service members.
- American Association of Community Colleges - A recent grant of $2.5 million will support creation of new training programs in 20 community colleges nationwide to meet the needs of local communities.