$40 Million Donation Allocated to University of Michigan to Support First- Generation Students

United States North America Higher Education News by Erudera News Oct 29, 2021

University of Michigan

The University of Michigan has received a $40 million donation from the Judy and Fred Wilpon Family Foundation to ease the struggles of first-generation college students.

The $40 million gift aims to assist first-generation students through the Kessler Scholars Program at the university, Erudera.com reports.

A total of 157 students are currently supported by the Kessler Scholars Program in their four-year education through different services. Every academic year, some 40 incoming first-year students join the program and attend workshops on personal, academic, and professional topics.

Since 2008, the program has provided more than 400 undergraduate students with scholarships at the University of Michigan.

The former owner of the New York Mets, and founder of the Wilpon Family Foundation, Fred Wilpon, said that it is not enough to just give students a scholarship.

“As a first-generation college student myself and a graduate of U-M, I know the importance of having a close-knit community and a sense of belonging on campus,” Wilpon said, pointing out that through the gift and the resources offered in this program, students will feel secure, empowered and engaged in becoming the next generation of global leaders.

In its 13th year, the Kessler Scholars Program experienced a redesign during 2017 focusing on support for research for the first generation of college students. Over the past years, upon the launch of the Kessler Scholars Collaborative, LSA and U-M have led the national expansion of the program to five colleges and universities which are:

  • Cornell University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Queens College
  • St. Francis College
  • Syracuse University 

According to a 2018 report of the US Department of Education, one third of all students at colleges and universities are first-generation students, and less than 30 percent of the first-generation students finish an undergraduate degree in four years.

U-M President Mark Schlissel said that first-generation students bring talent and unique perspectives to the University of Michigan while they face struggles that other students don’t, adding that the University of Michigan is committed to helping students do more than just arrive at the university.

 “I am deeply grateful for the Wilpons’ generosity, which allows Michigan to support these outstanding students as they achieve success in the classroom and their communities,” Schlissel said.

Donators Judy and Fred Wilpon are both LSA and University of Michigan alumni, who have graduated in 1958 and have established the Kessler Scholars Program in 2008, which program has granted scholarships to undergraduate students at the university.

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