Oct. 31, 2022
VCU awarded $2M grant to expand first-generation student center
Grant supports expansion of You First at VCU First-Generation Student Success and Research Center.
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Virginia Commonwealth University has been awarded a nearly $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to expand its You First at VCU First-Generation Student Success and Research Center. The five-year grant will increase the university’s capacity to support Asian American and Pacific Islander students through culturally competent student programming, student support and engagement, and faculty development and research.
Based on its enrollment of and commitment to AAPI students, VCU was named a minority serving institution earlier this year, allowing access to federal grant programs only available to institutions with the MSI designation. The DOE grant will allow the You First Center to design programming for these students that will increase their sense of belonging, academic success, retention and graduation rates.
Research shows that stereotypes present AAPI students as the “model minority” and as a single monolithic group who excel in education.
“Despite its positive overtones, this stereotype is damaging for AAPI students,” said Tomikia LeGrande, Ed.D., vice president for strategy, enrollment management and student success at VCU. “Understanding the diversity that exists among AAPI students, as well as their lived experiences, is key to ensuring their success. We’ve seen the research and our own institutional data that point to amplified and intersecting barriers for our first-generation and/or low-income AAPI students.”
“Those barriers can result in gaps in their ability to have a strong sense of belonging, perform academically, ensure physical and mental wellness, and successfully complete their degrees,” added Daphne Rankin, Ph.D., associate vice president for special programs at VCU and principal investigator on the grant.
The DOE grant will also allow an expanded VCU You First Center to increase inclusive research activity that is accurately reflective of the diversity and intersecting identities of AAPI students.
“We continue to ambitiously seek and pursue every possible resource to support our diverse student body,” LeGrande said. “I want to thank Dr. Daphne Rankin and Molly Wright, director of communications for strategic initiatives in the division of institutional research and decision support, for their efforts in securing this grant. As we actively work to sustain our culture of care, funding like this allows us to better support our students holistically so that they can be successful, not only while they’re matriculating but beyond graduation.”
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