Corporate gift will bolster outreach, retention of students

By Steve Nakata, Office of Student Affairs and Enrollment

FCOC-gradsPULLMAN, Wash. – A gift of $25,000 will support key outreach and retention programs for underrepresented students at Washington State University.

“With the dramatic increase in enrollment of multicultural students, and more specifically first-generation students,” the funding is timely, said Manuel Acevedo, director of the Office of Multicultural Student Services.

The gift from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation will go toward tutoring, mentoring and educational workshops, he said.

“Providing support to organizations like Washington State University Foundation, which provide opportunity and improve the quality of life in our communities, is key to our strategy to build capacities that truly make a difference,” said Christi Gordon, Puget Sound corporate social responsibility manager for Bank of America.

Almost half of the gift will support the Future Cougars of Color program, which provides prospective students a free visit to the WSU Pullman campus. It is one of WSU’s largest and most successful campus visitation events.

Research shows that of those who attend, 77 percent enroll at WSU. More than 60 percent of them indicated on a survey they would not have been able to visit WSU without the program.

The other funds from the gift will help students achieve success academically, socially and financially through programs such as:

* Peer and Team Mentoring, which served 1,261 freshmen last year, Acevedo said. Of the students who took advantage of this service, 55 percent were first-generation and 55 percent were Pell Grant eligible. Years of analysis have shown that students who receive this mentoring return to WSU the following year at a much higher rate than those who do not participate.

* Smart Start, which is new this year. It aims to serve around 280 first-generation and underrepresented students. Students meet regularly with professional retention counselors, participate in educational workshops and get academic, social and cultural support.

* SALT, which is relatively new and promotes financial literacy for students.