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College of Notre Dame Selected For $100,000 Walmart College Success Award

June 4, 2010

College of Notre Dame of Maryland is the recipient of a $100,000 Walmart College Success Award from the Walmart Foundation and the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC). Notre Dame was awarded the competitive grant to launch the Trailblazer Scholars Program, an initiative to provide first-generation students with the tools, incentives, and support needed to graduate. 

“At Notre Dame, more than 30 percent of our recent students are first-generation. We understand their unique needs and the challenges they face,” said Mary Pat Seurkamp, Ph.D., president of the College. “With the generous support of the Walmart College Success Award, the new Trailblazer Scholars Program will coordinate support services and mentoring opportunities, so that these young adults can successfully achieve their academic and personal goals. ”

Notre Dame’s Trailblazer Scholars Program will focus on high impact experiences that strengthen first-generation students’ interactions with faculty and peers, encourage them to engage in research, and involve them in experiential learning. Trailblazer Scholars will engage in a meaningful service opportunity in their first year, and take part in a substantive research project later in their academic program. 

The Trailblazer Scholars Program will also offer participating students support services such as peer mentors; academic success workshops; events for parents; an alumnae speaker series; individual consultations between scholars, counselors at Notre Dame’s Academic and Career Enrichment Center; and a dedicated web portal. Students completing the first year of the program will be eligible for $1,000 grants to support research and internships.

The Trailblazer Scholars Program will be administered in conjunction with Notre Dame’s Personal Pathways initiative, which includes Morrissy Honors Students, Transformational Leaders, and Pre-Professional Students

Through the Walmart College Success Awards program, 30 CIC member colleges and universities, selected through a competitive application process, will receive substantial grants to help strengthen exemplary programs that support the education of first-generation students. The newly selected 30 institutions and the 20 initial College Success Award recipients (selected in June 2008) will work together as a network to assist first-generation college students, learn from one another, and serve as models for other colleges and universities. 

CIC received a second grant of $3 million from the Walmart Foundation in 2009 to support the second cohort of award recipients. Twenty CIC member institutions with programs that show the greatest promise of increasing retention of the largest number of first-generation students were selected to receive grants of $100,000. Ten institutions that have established worthy projects with a smaller scope of impact or are more experimental in nature will receive $50,000 awards. All award winners have an undergraduate enrollment that includes at least 30 percent first-generation students among the most recent classes of first-year students. 

Citing data from the American Association of Community Colleges, CIC President Richard Ekman noted that more than six million students a year enroll for credit at the nation’s community colleges. However, only 26 percent actually transfer to a four-year college. In addition, according to the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the six-year graduation rate of first-generation students at public four-year institutions is only 44 percent compared with 61 percent at private colleges and universities. 

“In short, if we are to achieve the ambitious national goal of increased numbers of college graduates, the lessons learned from the experiences of private colleges will need to be heeded by national policymakers and others,” said Ekman. 

For more information about the Walmart College Success Awards and the programs of the 30 winners, visit the CIC website at www.cic.edu/projects_services/walmart_college_success.asp. 

ABOUT COLLEGE OF NOTRE DAME
College of Notre Dame is recognized for its commitment to a liberal arts education, including strong teacher preparation and nursing degree programs and small class sizes. The Women’s College, the first Catholic college for women in the United States to award the four-year baccalaureate degree, offers 27 majors. Notre Dame was named to the “Great Schools, Great Prices” listing in America’s Best Colleges 2010. In fall 2009 the College welcomed its inaugural class to the School of Pharmacy. Weekend and Accelerated colleges offer part-time programs for working women and men. Graduate Studies in education, nursing, management, communication and liberal studies provide students with a focused contemporary curriculum. Visit ndm.edu for more information.

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