UDC News

May 15, 2009


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University of the District of Columbia chosen for $100,000
“Wal-Mart Minority Student Success Award”

Washington, DC (May 8, 2009) - The University of the District of Columbia (UDC) has been selected by the Institute for Higher Education Policy to receive a Wal-Mart Minority Student Success Award—a $100,000 grant to help build on UDC’s demonstrated successes in enrolling, retaining, and graduating first-generation college students. UDC was one of only 15 minority-serving institutions (MSIs) selected through a highly competitive application process to strengthen efforts to support first-generation students.

“The University of the District of Columbia is happy to be a recipient of this $100,000 grant,” said Dr. Allen L. Sessoms, president of the University of the District of Columbia. “As the nation’s only urban-land grant institution, the support from the Wal-Mart Foundation and IHEP will help us fulfill our unique mission to residents of the District.”

The campus project is Project SOAR4 – Scholars On A Roll – and the focus is on students enrolled in developmental courses, a population that currently constitutes over 80% of our entering freshman class. The goal of Project SOAR4 is to establish and maintain effective learning communities that will improve student learning, increase course pass rates and heighten academic success.    The learning communities are intended to make a positive impact on the persistence and graduation rates of first-generation students at UDC.

We are excited to be working with such a diverse group of minority-serving institutions focused on improving the success of this critical student group,” said IHEP president Michelle Asha Cooper. “Their planned initiatives demonstrate a long-term commitment to first generation student success that builds on their well-established mission to retain and graduate underserved student populations.”

“The Wal-Mart Foundation is committed to helping our nation’s young adults live better – supporting programs that provide access to higher education is a key part of our commitment,” said Margaret McKenna, president of the Wal-Mart Foundation. “We are confident that our partnership with the Institute for Higher Education Policy and minority-serving institutions will positively impact many first-generation college students and assure their academic success.

Approximately 41 percent of students enrolled at MSIs are first-generation, compared to 30 percent of students at predominately white institutions. Because of their overrepresentation of first-generation students, MSIs are ideally situated to improve retention and persistence gaps for these students.

The Wal-Mart College Success Awards program is administered by the Institute for Higher Education Policy and made possible by a generous $4.2 million grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation. The 14 other winners include: Bennett College for Women (NC); California State University-Fresno; Claflin University (SC); Colorado State University-Pueblo; Florida International University; La Guardia Community College (NY);  Mount St. Mary’s College (CA); Navajo Technical College (NM); Norfolk State University (VA); Northwest Indian College (WA); Salish Kootenai College (MT); Spelman College (GA); Tennessee State University; and University of the Incarnate Word (TX). 

IHEP will select a second cohort of Wal-Mart Minority Student Success institutions in spring 2010.  For more information about the initiative and grantees, visit the IHEP website at http://www.ihep.org/walmartminoritystudents.cfm.

About The Institute for Higher Education Policy
The Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) is an independent, nonprofit organization that is dedicated to increasing access and success in postsecondary education around the world. Established in 1993, the Washington, D.C.-based organization uses unique research and innovative programs to inform key decision makers who shape public policy and support economic and social development. IHEP’s web site, www.Ihep.org, features an expansive collection of higher education information available free of charge and provides access to some of the most respected professionals in the fields of public policy and research.

About Philanthropy at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and the Wal-Mart Foundation are proud to support the charitable causes that are important to customers and associates in their own neighborhoods. Through its philanthropic programs and partnerships, the Wal-Mart Foundation funds initiatives focused on creating opportunities in education, workforce development, economic opportunity, environmental sustainability, and health and wellness. From February 1, 2008 through January 31, 2009, Wal-Mart – and its domestic and international Foundations – gave more than $423 million in cash and in-kind gifts globally. To learn more, visit www.walmartfoundation.org.


The University of the District of Columbia is the fully-accredited sole public source for accessible, inclusive, affordable, and comprehensive public higher education in the District of Columbia. The University, an urban land grant institution, is a very diverse community, a gateway to the world, and a significant economic engine for the District of Columbia.  The University is located at 4200 Connecticut Ave, NW Washington, and is conveniently located at the Van Ness/UDC stop on the Red Line of Metro. 

Jackie Boynton, Assistant Vice President of Marketing, Communications & Alumni Relations, jboynton@udc.edu or 202.997.7161