WKU receives $200,000 CPE grant to support Summer Scholars

Grant will help support its Summer Scholars Program.

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WTVQ) – Western Kentucky University will receive a $200,000 grant to support its Summer Scholars Program.


The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education announced last week that 29 programs at 25 Kentucky colleges and universities will receive grants of up to $200,000 each, totaling $3.5 million, to support summer bridge programs focused on improving college preparation and retention.


WKU’s summer bridge program, called the Summer Scholars Program, is a five-week summer transition program for incoming first-year students who have an unweighted high school GPA between 2.0 and 2.49. Participants move to campus early, complete six hours of college credit, and receive personalized support to help prepare them for college.


“The Summer Scholars Program provides students access and opportunity to pursue higher education with minimal to no financial cost,” said Christopher Jensen, WKU’s Assistant Vice President for Student Success. “Students who have successfully completed the program have demonstrated an increased level of persistence and retention at WKU. The program really reflects the mission and value of Western Kentucky University by making sure that students enrolled at WKU have the opportunity and means to be successful and graduate.”


In addition to the CPE grant, WKU received a $40,000 grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation. For the summer of 2022, the program will expand to allow 60 additional students to opt into the program to complete a supplemental math course prior to the fall semester. Overall, Summer Scholars is expected to serve around 160 students this summer, and there is no cap on the number of student participants who have a 2.0 to 2.49 high school GPA.


The grant funds will support the intentional design of the Summer Scholars Program to maximize the benefits for students, while minimizing their out-of-pocket cost. Students are provided with tuition for two summer courses (six credit hours that count toward graduation), on-campus housing for five weeks, 10 on-campus meals per week, all required textbooks, a summer membership to the Preston Health & Activities Center, social programming, and access to all on-campus support services and resources. To help prevent a prohibitive financial barrier, these resources are provided at minimal or no financial cost to the student. Specifically, the grant funding will provide faculty to teach, student tutors and mentors, textbooks and supplies, scholarships, learning and social activities, and meals.


“The Summer Scholars Program contributes to WKU’s endeavor to narrow the gap in college completion metrics,” Jensen said. “It creates an opportunity for the University to help students achieve academic success and foster connections to the campus community and Bowling Green through out-of-classroom learning experiences and planned social activities.”


The second round of grant funding distributed by CPE enables WKU to continue this important work with another cohort of students. Last year, WKU received a $100,000 grant from the CPE for the Summer Scholars Program, which served 88 students. CPE awarded $1.5 million to 21 summer bridge programs in 2021.


“The transition out of high school and the first year of college are critical and sometimes very trying times for students,” said CPE President Aaron Thompson. “Students need academic and social-emotional support to stay engaged, have a positive experience and graduate. These programs provide the resources they need to succeed.”


Summer bridge programs strive to help students transition to college or stay enrolled for their second year. They can provide social and emotional resources, academic, career or financial advising, training in time management or study skills, accelerated coursework or similar supports.


The grants are part of the second round of funding from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, known as GEER II, which seeks to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19. Funds for GEER II were made available through the federal CARES Act. The grants were also funded by the American Rescue Plan Act and secured through the Kentucky Department of Education.


The Council awarded the grants through a competitive process based on specific criteria to increase numbers of students served in face-to-face programming, reduce performance gaps in college course completion and increase fall-to-spring retention rates, leading to improved graduation rates.

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