(WILKES-BARRE, PA – Jan. 20, 2014) -- Wilkes University has made a commitment to support the Pipeline to College Opportunity program announced at a Jan. 16 White House summit. The pipeline includes academic, programmatic and financial aid commitments from colleges and universities to support President Barack Obama’s initiatives to reduce barriers to higher education and increase college opportunity for low-income students.
With its commitment, Wilkes becomes the only higher education institution in northeast Pennsylvania to join the federal initiative and one of only eight in the state of Pennsylvania. Wilkes’ commitment includes a new fundraising event – the Founders Gala – that focuses on raising scholarship money for low-income, first-generation college students. It also emphasizes the continuation of its awarding-winning mentoring programs and programs such as Upward Bound that aim to ensure higher education success for first-generation students.
Wilkes is launching the first-ever Founder’s Gala in June to raise funds from business and community leaders, alumni, and trustees to help financially needy, first-generation students complete college. The funds raised will be distributed based on an individual’s need and academic achievements. the primary purpose of the event is to increase the number of financially needy students who can enroll at Wilkes.
The funds will also be used to expand and improve many of Wilkes’ existing programs that help first-generation and financially-needy students graduate on time. This initiative honors Wilkes’ long history as a university dedicated to helping northeastern Pennsylvania’s first-generation students. At any given time, between 30 and 50 percent of Wilkes students can be considered the first in their families to earn a college degree. More than 30 percent of Wilkes students qualify for Pell Grants, the federal aid that is designated for the neediest students.
Wilkes already has a strong history of programs supporting student success for first-generation students. Wilkes focuses on building a mentoring culture, where forming close personal relationships between faculty and students is one of the cornerstones of academic success. The mentoring support also includes a nationally recognized program known as the First-Year Student E-mentoring Program. It won the 2013 Excellence Award from the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. The E-mentoring program pairs all first-year students with an upperclassman in the same field of study to aid the transition to college and provide an extraordinary support environment for academic achievement and personal growth.
Wilkes is also one of the oldest institutions in the United States to sponsor Upward Bound, a federal TRIO program dedicated to providing young people with the opportunity to succeed and prepare for college. TRIO emerged out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 in response to the War on Poverty. Upward Bound has been part of Wilkes since 1967. In addition, Wilkes has a history of advocacy and participation in the Act 101 program, a state program to support low-income students in college.
Wilkes University responded to a request from the Obama administration asking colleges to commit new programs to improve access to higher education for low-income students. The U.S. Department of Education studied and identified barriers to college opportunity for these students. The president and first lady made a call to action, asking colleges and university, nonprofits, foundations, businesses, state officials and other leaders to make new commitments to increase college opportunity.
About Wilkes University
Wilkes University is an independent institution of higher education dedicated to academic and intellectual excellence through mentoring in the liberal arts, sciences and professional programs. Founded in 1933, the university provides its students with the experience, mentoring and education necessary for career and intellectual development as well as personal growth. Named one of the fastest-growing universities in the United States by The Chronicle of Higher Education, Wilkes offers the doctor of nursing practice, doctor of education and doctor of pharmacy degrees and more than a dozen master’s degree programs, including the master of business administration and master of fine arts in creative writing. For more information, visit www.wilkes.edu