WSU grant to assist students with migrant backgrounds

PULLMAN – Experienced grant writers often say persistence is a key factor when seeking financial support. Persistence paid off last week for Washington State University as it received word the U.S. Department of Education had awarded $2 million over five years to establish the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) on the Pullman campus.

Washington State University’s CAMP will serve 50 students each year – all first-year students from migrant or seasonal farm worker families. The program will provide them with an arsenal of support services including academic tutoring, mentoring, financial aid counseling, leadership training and cultural enrichment opportunities during their first year. Each student will also have access to laptop computers and receive a $750 stipend each semester to help with his or her educational expenses.

WSU was unsuccessful in previous attempts to bring this program to Pullman, but that didn’t discourage Luci Loera, WSU’s dean of students. Loera improved the application from previous attempts and resubmitted it last April.

“I was confident that we would ultimately receive this grant. It was just a question of time,” said Alton Jamison, interim vice president for student affairs. “Luci and her team deserve a lot of credit for their hard work,insight and persistence.”

Nationally, 34 established programs were expected to receive continued funding leaving enough money for only seven new programs. Other area universities with CAMP programs include Lewis and Clark State College (Lewiston), University of Idaho (Moscow), Central Washington University (Ellensburg), and Eastern Washington University (Cheney).

The funding for the program began October 1 and Loera is racing to assemble a staff and identify student participants. Her position openings include a director, academic retention coordinator, outreach recruiter, administrative assistant and eight part-time academic tutors. CAMP will draw from the current WSU student body this year, but will engage in community outreach and partner with WSU’s High School Equivalency Program (HEP) to identify potential students in subsequent years. WSU is home to the longest-running HEP in the nation.

“This certainly gives WSU a competitive edge in recruiting these students,” Loera said.

Jamison adds that already having a portfolio of federally-funded support programs at WSU, such as the Student Support Services program, will also aid in their retention and graduation. “The CAMP program will work closely with these other programs to provide a structured first-year experience that builds on students’ strengths and helps them focus on academic success,” he said.