Spelman and Ford Partner to Support First-Gen Students - Higher Education
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Spelman and Ford Partner to Support First-Gen Students

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First-generation students at Spelman College will receive support and mentorship under a new initiative with Ford Motor Company this year.

The Ford First Gen @ Spelman College initiative provides a cohort of 50 first-generation, first-year students with personal and professional support services in order to improve graduation rates and enhance student success among the first-gen demographic, officials said.

The first-year cohort will be paired with 10 peer mentors who are rising juniors and also first-generation students. Peer mentors will spend at least 10 hours a week with their mentees.

“Spelman College counts among some of its most distinguished alumnae many first-generation graduates, including Starbucks COO and Spelman Board Chair Rosalind Brewer,” said Spelman president Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell. “Ford Motor Company’s partnership with us in the Ford First Gen program brings a comprehensive, innovative and collaborative approach that exemplifies an important part of ‘the Spelman Promise’ – ensuring that every Spelmanite graduates with a competitive edge.”

Currently, 15 percent of Spelman’s student population is first-generation.

Selected Ford First Gen students will participate in bi-weekly seminars focused on career development, artistic engagement, healthy relationships, envisioning your future and more; engage with industry professionals in and outside of the Metro-Atlanta area on monthly excursions; meet with Spelman faculty across academic disciplines; and have Ford-sponsored summer internship opportunities that foster experiential learning and critical thinking.

The first-year cohort will also interact with each other in living and learning environments throughout their four years at Spelman, officials said. After their sophomore year, students have the option to become peer mentors to the successive first-year group of Ford First Gen students, where they will receive a $10,000 scholarship and an opportunity to be mentored by a professional from Ford Motor Company.

“Ford First Gen is a unique approach to helping break down barriers to success that are sometimes faced by first-generation students,” said Pamela Alexander, director of Community Development at Ford Motor Company Fund. “We are very excited about the opportunity we have to impact students’ lives through the mentorship, education and cultural experiences that Ford First Gen will offer, and given Spelman’s rich legacy of success, we could not ask for a better partner for this program.”

Spelman and Ford kicked-off the launch of the Ford First Gen @ Spelman College initiative on August 14 at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta.

Tiffany Pennamon can be reached at tpennamon@diverseeducation.com. You can follow her on Twitter @tiffanypennamon.

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