GAR Foundation grant helps students 'Rise to the Occasion'


GAR Foundation support is helping some of UA's African American male students succeed in their goal to earn a degree.

The University's efforts to provide a supportive environment in which increasing numbers of African American males can succeed academically, then graduate and go on to build rewarding careers has been recognized by the GAR Foundation.

For a second consecutive year, the foundation has awarded a $50,000 grant to fund scholarships through UA's Rising to the Occasion Program. The initiative, which is part of the Office of Multicultural Development, was launched in 2010 with a $425,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Making a difference

Core components of the Rising to the Occasion Program, directed by Patrick Jackson, coordinator of African American Male Initiatives, are designed to increase the recruitment, retention and graduation rates of African American male students. They include:

  • African American Male Learning Communities for first-year students;
  • Rites of Passage program to focus on self-esteem, identity, personal responsibility and professional development;
  • Climate study on African-American males to gain understanding of the campus experience; and
  • Faculty workshops and symposiums on challenges facing African-American students.

The advising and academic support services provided through the programs are having a positive impact, as is the scholarship assistance, says Fedearia Nicholson, assistant vice president for student success.

Shared goals = results

"From last year to this year, we've seen the number of participants in the learning communities increase from 24 to 44, and we now have two cohorts," notes Nicholson. "The academic success of the students in these cohorts is significantly higher than students who did not participate, so we are hoping to quickly increase the number of learning communities."

With the GAR grant, eligible students have been awarded $2,500 scholarships, which are then matched by UA. To be eligible, students must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and a 21 or higher on the ACT.

"This scholarship assistance has been very important," adds Nicholson. "It has literally made the difference in some first-year students' ability to attend UA. And, it has made it possible for some returning students to afford to come back for another year."