Wal-Mart Grants Go to Church of the Brethren Colleges

“Celebrating the Church of the Brethren’s 300th Anniversary in 2008″

(July 22, 2008) — Two Church of the Brethren colleges–Manchester College in North Manchester, Ind., and Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa.–each received $100,000 Wal-Mart College Success Award grants. Wal-Mart College Success Awards are administered by the Council of Independent Colleges and made possible by a grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation.

In a press release, Manchester announced that it is the only Indiana college to receive the grant, and that only 20 grants were awarded nationwide. The grants are part of a nationwide initiative to increase the number of first-generation college graduates.

Manchester “already is deeply committed to the program,” the release said, adding that 25 percent of Manchester graduates are the first in their families to receive a college degree. “Our first goal, and one that Wal-Mart shares and has generously funded, is to increase the number of first-generation students choosing college,” said David F. McFadden, executive vice president of Manchester. “A second is to increase the number who graduate from college. First-generation students and the state of Indiana both will benefit when we meet these goals.”

With the two-year grant, Manchester plans to build on its already successful recruiting and retention programs. The release said the college will identify and match potential first-generation candidates at area high schools to Manchester College students and mentors. Students will attend overnight workshops to learn how to prepare and apply for college, and what to expect. The college also will work with high school guidance counselors.

Manchester already supports its first-year students through a Success Center that brings together faculty, counselors, health services, mentoring, tutoring, writing help, and study tables for all students, the release said, “strugglers as well as honor students.”

Similarly, Juniata was the only higher education institution in Pennsylvania to receive the award, said a Juniata release. “We take seriously our responsibility to deliver a superb education to every student regardless of family background or income,” said Thomas R. Kepple, Juniata president. “For example, nearly 40 percent of our graduates have been the first in their families to complete a college education. I’m proud to be part of a group of hard-working and creative colleges recognized for their commitment to first-generation and lower-income college students. I’m especially thankful for the commitment Wal-Mart has made to help us continue this important work.”

Juniata will use the award over the next two years to increase financial aid to allow first-generation students to attend the college’s Inbound Retreats program, a weeklong pre-orientation program for incoming freshmen designed to help students become accustomed to campus life and meet students with similar interests. Students demonstrating financial need will receive free admission to the program as Next Generation Scholars. They also will receive small grants to cover any lost wages they would have earned during that week if they were employed over the summer. In addition, the grant includes awards to first-generation students to cover textbook and laboratory expenses during their first semester at Juniata.

Nationwide, at all colleges and universities, only 24 percent of first-generation students succeed in earning a bachelor’s degree compared with 68 percent of students whose parents received a bachelor’s degree, the Juniata release said. The colleges that have been selected for the Wal-Mart College Success Awards have developed programs that result in higher percentages of graduates among their first-generation college students than the national average, and many graduate first-generation students at the same rate as all other students.

Find out more about Manchester College at http://www.manchester.edu/ and go to http://www.juniata.edu/ for more about Juniata College.


The Church of the Brethren Newsline is produced by Cheryl Brumbaugh-Cayford, director of news services for the Church of the Brethren General Board. Newsline stories may be reprinted if Newsline is cited as the source. To receive Newsline by e-mail go to http://listserver.emountain.net/mailman/listinfo/newsline. Submit news to the editor at cobnews@brethren.org. For more Church of the Brethren news and features, subscribe to “Messenger” magazine; call 800-323-8039 ext. 247.

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