WILMINGTON — Wilmington College received a $1.9 million grant to provide support for at-risk students with an emphasis placed upon retaining them through graduation.
The U.S. Department of Education approved the Title III grant that will start Oct. 1 and be spread over the next five years to leverage data analytics in the design and implementation of more effective retention programming. Title III is a federal program of the Department of Education designed to help institutions of higher education serve low-income students more effectively.
Under the leadership of Dr. Erika Goodwin, vice president for Academic Affairs, the grant was written by Dr. Mei Mei Burr, associate vice president for Academic Affairs and Dr. Katie Bontrager, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs, with support from Shari Lewis, a former grant writer with the College.
A unique feature of the grant proposal was the inclusion of mental health experts in the enhanced support structure for at-risk students. Although housed in Academic Affairs, implementation of the proposal will be a collaborative effort with Student Affairs and Information Technology.
“These funds will allow us to capitalize on technology and data in developing effective retention programming.” Goodwin said. “We are especially excited about broadening our current retention efforts to include more mental health resources.”
With an ambitious goal of increasing overall student retention and graduation rates by 3 percent in five years, the College will use the grant for strengthening technology and hiring additional academic and mental health professionals, as well as offering additional professional training to faculty and staff involved with retention efforts.
New staff will include two retention success coaches, two mental health interns, a research analyst and a Title III coordinator, the latter of whom would lead program assessment and develop a team to create a long-term improvement plan.