Ohio State receives $1 million to join Kessler Scholars Collaborative
Participating institutions bring comprehensive model for first-generation student success to campus
The Ohio State University
The Ohio State University has joined the Kessler Scholars Collaborative to support first-generation student success and help close the gaps between first-generation, limited-income students and peers from higher-income backgrounds and families with college degrees. The university will receive a $1 million, five-year grant to establish the Kessler Scholars at Ohio State.
The program is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Judy and Fred Wilpon Family Foundation.
Ohio State is one of 10 American Talent Initiative members to receive this grant, joining a diverse network of colleges and universities dedicated to supporting first-generation students through direct financial support and cohort-based services.
“The benefits of a college degree – from increased earning potential to a wider array of career options – are well documented, but acquiring one is challenging, especially if you’re the first in your family to do so,” President Kristina M. Johnson said. “Studies have shown that four times as many first-generation college students drop out compared to those who have at least one parent who attended an institution of higher education. Financial pressures, lack of a support system, guilt for leaving family behind, and difficulties fitting in are among the many obstacles facing those who take this important step. The Kessler Scholars Collaborative helps bridge these gaps and gives first-generation students the support they need to achieve academic and personal success. Establishing this program at Ohio State will be truly transformative and make a real impact on many lives.”
As part of the Kessler Scholars Collaborative, Ohio State will receive onboarding guidance, curricular resources and technical support to implement the Kessler Scholars model on campus. The university and partner institutions in the network will meet regularly to share resources, evaluate best practices, and participate in collaborative-wide student engagement and networking opportunities.
Ohio State joins the collaborative alongside six current institutions, including ATI members Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Michigan, as well as Queens College, St. Francis College and Syracuse University. Nine other ATI members will join the collaborative, including: Bates College, Brown University, Centre College, Saint Mary’s College (Indiana), University of California, Riverside, University of Dayton, University of Pittsburgh, Washington University in St. Louis and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
“As a first-generation college graduate, I believe that opportunity for educational attainment is our country’s obligation to our citizenry in this global economy,” said Assistant Vice Provost for Student Academic Success David Graham. “Aligning Ohio State’s current first-generation student support efforts with the Kessler Scholars Collaborative allows Ohio State to share evidence-based practices, innovate new ideas, disclose challenges and continue to advance the success of first-generation students at Ohio State University and beyond.”
Founded in 2008 at the University of Michigan, the Kessler Scholars Program connects first-generation students with resources and opportunities across campus – including individualized support and cohort-based workshops and programming designed to foster academic, professional and personal growth. The Kessler Scholars graduating cohort attained a four-year graduation rate of 83%, or eight percentage points higher than their first-generation peers and virtually on par with their continuing-generation peers (84%).
Over the five-year grant period, July 2022 to June 2027, Ohio State will devote at least 40% of the total grant, or $400,000, to direct student aid. As a part of the proven Kessler Scholars model, participating students will benefit from high-touch, personalized advising and support from Kessler Scholars staff and peer mentors; cohort-based activities throughout their college experience to reinforce a sense of belonging; and programs designed to elevate first-generation students’ unique strengths, with a focus on ensuring they realize their academic and professional goals. The first cohort of up to 20 Kessler Scholars will arrive on campus in Fall 2023.