RALEIGH, N.C., April 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- An initiative of North Carolina's private colleges and universities is funding programs around the state aimed at expanding access to college and improving college students' success.
Funding administered by N.C. Independent Colleges and Universities, which represents the state's 36 private colleges and universities, has been delivered to 18 campuses which are using the support to start innovative programs or enhance existing ones.
"Most private colleges and universities in North Carolina were established to provide more teachers for the state and to expand a college education to a larger number of our citizens," said A. Hope Williams, president of NCICU. "The Independent College Access Network is in keeping with that long time commitment to making college possible for all students regardless of income and especially for the state's first-generation college students."
One of the goals of the network is to bring the state's private colleges and universities together to identify and share best practices in improving student access and success, Williams said.
The $200,000 in funding provided to the colleges and universities came from a federal grant and support from the Foundation for Independent Higher Education. The funding is aimed at helping colleges and universities implement programs that will help first-generation, low-income, minority or students at risk of educational failure to reach success in college.
"Funding is always a deterrent to implementing new programs, especially now that our nation is facing one of its worst recessions in modern history," said Anthony Locklear, director of college access programs at NCICU. "Therefore, we are excited that our independent colleges and universities are able to pursue these initiatives."
Campuses that applied for the funding had the option of developing programs aimed at facilitating high school students' access to higher education or at improving enrolled students' success.
"Many of the institutions simply built upon the success of current programs, but several used the opportunity to implement programs that would not have been possible without the infusion of the new funds provided by NCICU," Locklear said.
The intent of the program is for each campus to form or strengthen its own efforts by working on their campus to address issues which affect college access and success and to provide opportunities by which these best practices can be reported, discussed, and shared among the state's independent colleges and universities.
Eighteen institutions received grants ranging from $1,000 to $20,000.
"The diversity of programs and the excitement generated by the campus collaborations have exceeded all expectations," Locklear said. "Some campuses have used the funds to implement initiatives that had been placed on a dream list due to the lack of funding. Others have used the funds to develop curriculum which will allow their institution to offer student led supplemental instruction in future semesters."
For example, Peace College in Raleigh was awarded $15,000 to expand two efforts to help first-year students make the transition to college life and to feel connected to the college.
In one program, upperclassmen will serve as "student success consultants" to new students. The "student success consultants" will communicate regularly with their assigned first-year students, sharing important campus information and helping them adjust to college life. A second program will provide book and travel scholarships for first-generation, minority, first-year students, provided they improve their grade point average from the fall to spring semester and demonstrate involvement in campus activities.
"Commitment to access has been an integral part of the history of independent higher education and is one of the major principles on which many of our colleges were founded," Locklear said. "Evidence of that commitment dates back to 1772 when Moravian settlers began providing education for women in what is now Salem College, the oldest college for women in the United States and the oldest institution of higher education in North Carolina."
NCICU is working to identify sources of funding that will allow continued support of the network.
Following is a list of the institutions that received funding from NCICU:
Mars Hill College
North Carolina Wesleyan College
St. Andrews College
Saint Augustine's College
Warren Wilson College
SOURCE N.C. Independent Colleges and Universities