UMKC Cited for Commitment to First-Generation College Students

First-gen Forward designation recognizes universities that improve experiences and advance outcomes of first-gen students
UMKC First Gen Roo program

The University of Missouri-Kansas City has been included in the 2020-21 cohort of First-gen Forward Institutions in recognition of its efforts to support first-generation students.

The First-gen Forward is a designation given by the Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and the Suder Foundation. The designation recognizes colleges and universities that have demonstrated a commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students. Selected institutions receive professional development, community-building experiences, and a first look at the Center’s research and resources.

About 40 percent of current UMKC undergraduates are first-generation college students, defined as those who do not have a parent with a college degree.

UMKC initiatives for first-generation students include a First Gen Roo program designed to increase student success and satisfaction, with targeted goals for GPA, retention and graduation rates. Program goals are to facilitate campus navigation and integration, academic preparation and success (expectations, time management, note-taking, study skills, test-taking strategies); and social preparation (decision making, financial literacy, culture of higher education and strategies for success).

The program begins with a week-long First Gen Roo Summer program immediately prior to the start of the fall semester which include early move-in, meals, resource workshops, academic sessions, one-on-one meetings with program staff, social events and more. During the fall semester, first generation peer mentors provide additional support in meeting the program goals. The program was pioneered by the College of Arts and Sciences and will be expanded to all UMKC academic units in Fall 2020.

The university was also cited for the First Gen Proud program, a campus-wide initiative for first generation faculty, staff, alumni, and current students as well as supporters who were not first gen themselves, designed to recognize and celebrate the supportive, energetic, and inclusive first-generation community at UMKC.

“Now in its second year, First-gen Forward institutions continue to lead the nation by their commitment to first-generation student success. The 2020-21 cohort consists of diverse institutions across the nation and we are pleased to welcome UMKC for their long-term commitment and demonstrated strategies for scaling first-generation student initiatives,” said Sarah E. Whitley, senior director of the Center for First-generation Student Success.

UMKC Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said support for first-generation students is a key component of the mission of UMKC.

“We respect our first-generation students as trailblazers for their families and communities,” Agrawal said. “Their success is our community’s success, and as Kansas City’s only public research university, we play a critical role in enabling and empowering that success.”

“First-gen Forward is an exciting opportunity for UMKC to join an elite community of professionals prepared to share evidence-based practices and resources, troubleshoot challenges, generate knowledge, and continue to advance the success of first-generation students across the country. We are excited to see a groundswell of activity from the First-gen Forward cohort and know that UMKC will be a significant contributor,” said Kevin Kruger, president and CEO of NASPA.

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