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WSSU Awarded $175,000 grant from Lumina Foundation to help improve adult college graduation rates in North Carolina

Winston-Salem State University has been awarded a $175,000 grant by the Lumina Foundation as part of the organization’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Adult Learner Initiative.

WSSU will use the funding to launch the WSSU Adult Connections and Continuing Education Student Success (ACCESS) program, designed to provide adult learners, particularly Black adult learners, an opportunity to complete a baccalaureate degree program in a pathway that positions them for career readiness and/or graduate degree program enrollment. The WSSU ACCESS Program will also provide related support services to help adult students succeed in academics, professional development, and personal growth.

“There is an achievement gap between Blacks and whites in higher education when it comes to persistence and graduation rates. What we are finding is many learners leave college as traditional students and never return for a myriad of reasons … work, family, life circumstances,” said Kathy Stitts, PhD, associate provost for undergraduate education and dean of the University College. “Lumina has created this grant to help bridge that gap.”

The Lumina Foundation requested all 10 HBCUs in North Carolina apply for the grant. WSSU was one of the five awarded a grant.

“The Lumina Foundation is committed to support work around racial and education equity, and this funding focuses on eliminating those barriers that prevent black adult learners from completing their education in a timely manner,” said Stitts who worked with Provost Anthony Graham to write the application for the Lumina grant, which funds the program for two years.

The WSSU ACCESS Program will offer Black adult learners a pathway to baccalaureate degree completion by investing financial resources to offer the Interdisciplinary degree (IDS) degree as an online program to ensure greater access for Black adult learners.

“Students will be part of a cohort and will engage with resilience coaches on a regular basis. We want them to feel engaged and to have a sense of belonging so they will matriculate, graduate, and achieve their academic and professional goals,” said Stitts.

The Lumina Foundation is an independent, private foundation in Indianapolis that is committed to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all. Its goal is to prepare people for informed citizenship and for success in a global economy. 

Provost Graham delivers lecture
WSSU provost Anthony Graham

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