Kresge Foundation supports student success with $600,000 grant

Kresge Foundation supports student success with $600,000 grant
Kresge Foundation grant will help support undergraduate student success and retention.

The Kresge Foundation awarded Wayne State University a $600,000 grant to support the Undergraduate Student Success Initiative (USSI), aimed at increasing retention and graduation rates among minority and low-income students.

In his first university-wide address on October 2, 2013, President M. Roy Wilson shared his vision for Wayne State to become the nation’s pre-eminent research university and emphasized the need to improve graduation and retention rates.

University leaders from several offices and departments are collaborating on the USSI, which commits Wayne State to a strategy of inclusive excellence. The initiative defines key actions in six areas needed to significantly boost student achievement, retention and graduation. Those include providing meaningful access to college, fostering a strong foundation for graduation in the first year, investing in degree attainment, supporting transfer student success, broadening opportunities for students who are economically disadvantaged and underserved, and using data to inform decision-making. 

The projected timeline to fully implement all of the action items is five years. 

“The Kresge Foundation’s support for the Wayne State University Undergraduate Student Success Initiative will be a mutually beneficial partnership toward achieving the common goal to increase the number and diversity of college graduates in Detroit and across the United States,” said Margaret E. Winters, WSU provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. 

The grant will assist in the university’s planning and capacity-building phase in the first year of the USSI, specifically in four areas: 

1) Student, faculty and staff planning and buy-in 
2) Data acquisition and analysis 
3) Transfer student success
4) Community engagement registry

“The Kresge Foundation is proud to support the USSI’s planning phase and hopeful that this work builds momentum and expertise for the institution-wide goal of boosting retention and graduation rates.  Wayne State has much to offer other urban public institutions, but can also benefit by learning from universities that have successfully reduced or eliminated graduation-rate gaps between different groups of students,” said Caroline Altman Smith, senior program officer on the foundation’s education team.

The USSI enables Wayne State to better serve the unique needs of each student — especially those who are historically less likely to succeed in postsecondary education.

“Through integration into the community and university research programs, students will have a more meaningful academic experience they can apply to their daily lives,” Winters said. “Adding such relevancy to a demanding academic agenda can motivate and inspire students to stay in college and graduate. Ongoing encouragement and support from the university will give all students both the resources and enriching academic environment they need to thrive.”

The Kresge Foundation is a $3 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grant-making and investing in arts and culture; education; work in the environment, health, human services; and community development efforts in Detroit. Fostering greater access to and success in postsecondary education for low-income, minority and first-generation college students is the focus of Kresge’s education grant-making. For more information, visit or follow @kresgedu on Twitter.

(Posted: August 4, 2014)

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