Written by Dwight Bachman
Willimantic, Conn: Eastern Connecticut State University has been named the recipient of a $100,000 competitive grant from the Connecticut Department of Higher Education (DHE) to help operate Eastern's University Success Program, commonly known as the Summer Transition at Eastern Program/Contract Admissions Program (STEP/CAP).
The $100,000 grant will help fund Eastern's efforts to target students from Connecticut's low-income families and students who are the first in their family to attend college. It also will help fund year-round activities, i.e., hiring alumni mentors, peer advisors and other support services, as well as help to defray the cost of the summer 2012 STEP/CAP program.
The University Success Program is an outgrowth of the DHE's effort to close gaps in educational achievement between white, African-American, Hispanic-American and Asian-American students, and improve college enrollment, retention and graduation rates among low-income students.
For 28 consecutive summers, STEP/CAP has offered a group of approximately 65 high school graduates each year with an intensive, residential program of instruction, mentoring and advising, aimed at preparing them for the demands of undergraduate life. The students take classes in English, mathematics, social sciences, public speaking and study skills.
Over the past three years, STEP/CAP has posted significant gains in increasing the graduation rates of African-American and Hispanic-American students from low-income families who end up enrolling and graduating from Eastern. Notably, STEP/CAP's graduation rate of 40 percent exceeds the national average of less than 25 percent for students who come from low-income families and racial or ethnic groups that are under-represented on college campuses.