$1.8 Million Grant to Boost Student Success

Rachel Pukall rpuka198@uwsp.edu

The University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point has been awarded a $1.8 million federal grant, which went into effect on Oct. 1.

This grant goes towards improving academic services in order to help more students succeed.

The Strengthening Academic Success: More Graduates in Wisconsin program will be funded by the Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education, which is a part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.

It is a five-year grant that will help at-risk students stay in school and complete their degrees.

“This grant will help us to strengthen and improve instructional effectiveness and efficiencies in retaining and graduating well- prepared, workforce-ready students,” said Chancellor Bernie Patterson. “It is one of several ways our faculty and staff are helping students succeed, and to graduate in four years.”

The goal of the proposal is to increase retention of first-to-second- year students by 0.5 percent for each of the five years the grant will last.

Another goal is to improve the four-year graduation rate by 3 percent by the program’s final year.

“As traditional funding sources have eroded, UWSP has had to turn to alternative sources for funding critical services,” said Kathy Davis, the Executive Director of Academic Success. “We currently retain about 82 percent of students from their first to second year, which exceeds state and national averages, but we want to find methods to increase our retention rate.”

The Title III grant will include tutoring, academic advising and career counselling.

It will also fund 32 student positions for peer tutoring and peer advising mentors.

“The grant is part of a Strengthening Institutions Program, which helps higher education programs expand their capacity to serve at-risk students by providing funds to improve and strengthen academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability,” Davis said.

The grant is trying to eliminate risk factors that can create obstacles in education, such as low income, low ACT scores, academic probation and first generation students attending college.

“There are many contributors to retention, but there is clear evidence that low-income, first generation, students with low ACT scores and students on academic probation can be helped to succeed through targeted academic services,” Davis said.

The funding will not only allow at-risk students to receive academic services to make a difference in their academic success, but it will also help expand some of the trial programs that tutoring and advising have been experimenting with.

“Services will be enhanced or developed to meet student’s unique needs and direct students to appropriate services to support increased success in their college career,” Davis said.

Each program will involve student mentors and advisors who will work directly with the students.

This program will enhance the Supplemental Instruction program, which places student mentors in at-risk courses allowing them to better understand the needs of their students. They also offer discussion groups and targeted tutoring.

“These new opportunities are available to our students only because a small team of extremely dedicated staff members were determined to make a difference, and they have, to a tune of $1.8 million,” Patterson said. 

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