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Mount Chosen for Grant to Boost Success of First-Generation College Goers

May 4, 2009 -- Mount Saint Mary’s University of Los Angeles has been selected by the Institute for Higher Education Policy to receive a Wal-Mart Minority Student Success Award — a $100,000 grant to help build on the Mount's demonstrated success in enrolling, retaining, and graduating first-generation college students.

The Mount was one of only 15 minority-serving institutions nationwide selected through a highly-competitive application process to strengthen efforts to support first-generation students. "Mount Saint Mary’s University is honored to be selected as one of just several outstanding higher education institutions nationwide to receive the Wal-Mart Minority Student Success Award," says Jacqueline Powers Doud, president of the College. "Thanks in large part to this award, we will be able to enhance and expand our work with first-generation students."

With the grant, the Mount will create a faculty learning community composed of faculty who teach introductory courses critical to first-generation student success at the institution: English, mathematics, sociology, philosophy, and religious studies. Faculty will partner with first-generation students to develop and present course-related seminars, craft classroom-based co-curricular programs that deepen and extend course content, and collaborate with student family members to improve classroom success.

Components include:
• First-time, first-generation students in the associate degree program;
• Faculty learning communities designed to improve pedagogical strategies for first-generation student success;
• Application of faculty strategies through monthly seminars in which students and faculty develop and present materials in front of peers to reinforce basic academic skills. The seminars will also extend educational content beyond the classroom, and facilitate the personal connection between students and faculty and educational programming.

"We are excited to be working with such a diverse group of minority-serving institutions focused on improving the success of this critical student group," says Michelle Asha Cooper, president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy. "Their planned initiatives demonstrate a long-term commitment to first generation student success that builds on their well-established mission to retain and graduate underserved student populations."

"The Wal-Mart Foundation is committed to helping our nation's young adults live better – supporting programs that provide access to higher education is a key part of our commitment," says Margaret McKenna, president of the Wal-Mart Foundation. "We are confident that our partnership with the Institute for Higher Education Policy and minority-serving institutions will positively impact many first-generation college students and assure their academic success."

Approximately 41 percent of students enrolled at MSIs are first-generation, compared to 30 percent of students at predominately white institutions. Because of their overrepresentation of first-generation students, MSIs are ideally situated to improve retention and persistence gaps for these students.

The Wal-Mart College Success Awards program is administered by the Institute for Higher Education Policy and made possible by a $4.2-million grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation. The 14 other winners include: Bennett College for Women (NC); California State University-Fresno; Claflin University (SC); Colorado State University-Pueblo; Florida International University; La Guardia Community College (NY); Navajo Technical College (NM); Norfolk State University (VA); Northwest Indian College (WA); Salish Kootenai College (MT); Spelman College (GA); Tennessee State University; University of the District of Columbia; and University of the Incarnate Word (TX).

IHEP will select a second cohort of Wal-Mart Minority Student Success institutions in spring 2010. For more information about the initiative and grantees, visit the IHEP website at

About The Institute for Higher Education Policy
The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) is an independent, nonprofit organization that is dedicated to increasing access and success in postsecondary education around the world. Established in 1993, the Washington, D.C.-based organization uses unique research and innovative programs to inform key decision makers who shape public policy and support economic and social development. IHEP's web site,, features an expansive collection of higher education information available free of charge and provides access to some of the most respected professionals in the fields of public policy and research.

About Philanthropy at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and the Wal-Mart Foundation are proud to support the charitable causes that are important to customers and associates in their own neighborhoods. Through its philanthropic programs and partnerships, the Wal-Mart Foundation funds initiatives focused on creating opportunities in education, workforce development, economic opportunity, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness. From February 1, 2008 through January 31, 2009, Wal-Mart – and its domestic and international Foundations – gave more than $423 million in cash and in-kind gifts globally. To learn more, visit

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