Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Matching grant helps SMU First-Generation Initiative raise $250,000 for scholarships

WINONA, Minn. — Through a generous matching grant, Rochester benefactors Jack and Mary Ann Remick have helped Saint Mary’s University raise $250,000 for First-Generation Initiative scholarships in 2012.

In January, the Remicks, longtime supporters of Saint Mary’s, gifted the university a $100,000 matching grant to raise funds for the First-Generation Initiative. This program provides full scholarships — and continuous support — to low-income, high-potential, qualified students, with preference given to Saint Mary’s Lasallian partner schools.

Brother Ed Siderewicz, director of the First-Generation Initiative, said that by early April the university met the $100,000 challenge and surpassed it, bringing the current total to approximately $250,000.

“Mary Ann Remick is chair of our First-Generation Advisory Board,” Siderewicz said. “She wanted others to learn about and consider supporting the program. These generous funds enable us to make commitments this fall to a new group of First-Generation students who would otherwise never have the opportunity to go to college.

“Working with inner-city high schools,” he said, “we identify promising minority youth who are at risk of dropping out of school, largely because of their dangerous environment, under-resourced communities, and lack of understanding about how higher education opportunities can be accessed.”

After identifying the best candidates as early as the ninth grade, Saint Mary’s invites these students to spend a portion of each summer at the Winona campus Countdown to College Program. When they obtain their high school diplomas, these students are then eligible for a full college scholarship.

Although First-Generation students are mainstreamed, they also have the specialized academic and social support they need to excel in school.

To learn more about the First-Generation Initiative, contact Siderewicz at esiderew@smumn.edu or (507) 457-6683. To read more about this program, go to www.firsgenerationstories.org.