Wells College Receives Major Grant for Student Support Services

September 30, 2020
Thanks to a five-year, $935,125 award from the U.S. Department of Education, the College will be able to increase support services for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Wells student and professor discuss a student poster project

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded a $935,125 five-year grant to Wells College through the TRIO Student Support Services program. Starting with the current year, the first-year grant award is $187,025, with the rest of the grant to be distributed over the subsequent four years.

The federal government’s Student Support Services (SSS) Program is a comprehensive academic and personal support program that aims to increase retention and graduation rates among students who are first-generation college students or from low-income backgrounds, as well as individuals with disabilities. The program provides academic and personal support services, including tutoring, academic advising, career counseling, financial literacy, post-graduate preparation, and mentorship to all participants.

The federal government’s TRIO programs were first created in the 1960s; the program’s name originated from the fact that it was initially comprised of three initiatives: SSS, Upward Bound, and Talent Search. Today, there are a total of eight programs under the TRIO umbrella, all designed to identify and provide a wide range of services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.  

“Receiving this grant is evidence of Wells’ commitment to supporting all of our students from admission through graduation,” said Charles Kenyon, dean of students and principal investigator under the grant. “In the fall of 2019, over 57% of our students were eligible for support under the Student Support Services program. This grant will allow us to annually provide 100 eligible students from disadvantaged backgrounds with a continuum of wrap-around support to address academic, personal, financial and social issues that impact their performance.”

Earning this grant was not easy, as Wells was in competition with over 1,700 colleges nationwide. “It is almost unheard of for a college to be awarded a TRIO grant the first time they apply and this is a tribute to the outstanding team who worked on the grant proposal,” said Wells College President Jonathan Gibralter. “Last spring, Wells received a New York State Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) grant — and for Wells to receive a federal TRIO grant and a NYS CSTEP grant in the same year is a remarkable achievement,” he added.

Under the terms of the TRIO grant award, Wells will be able to devote additional resources to a number of student services areas, including tutoring and mentoring, course advising, understanding and applying for financial aid, financial and economic literacy skills, and guidance in applying to graduate or professional schools. By boosting support in these areas, the goal is to remove the academic, social and financial barriers that can negatively affect rates of persistence and graduation for eligible students, compared to their peers.


PHOTO: In this archival photo, chemistry professor Leah Elliott (right) discusses a student internship poster project during a presentation.

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