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COLUMBUS, Miss.--Transfer students attending Mississippi University for Women will benefit from a four-year $357,736 grant commitment from the Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF) to support college retention, persistence and completion through the Improving Mississippi’s Persistence and Completion Together (IMPACT) initiative.

The WHEF grant will fund the Navigating Transfer Student Success project at The W. The program will expand services presently focused on first-time freshmen to the university’s incoming transfer students, while highlighting the needs of this specific population.

“We are constantly looking for ways to help our students succeed. The Woodward Hines Education Foundation’s IMPACT grant provides us with the resources to expand certain services and establish new supports for our students in the form of simplifying financial aid processes and providing completion grants to students close to graduation who need that extra lit bit of financial help,” said Dr. David Brooking, director of the Student Success Center.

According to Brooking, the grant provides The W with an opportunity to streamline the onboarding process for transfer students and minimize credit loss in the transfer process. Brooking explained the grant-funded program will shorten the time needed for degree completion as well as lower the cost of a baccalaureate degree for students, effectively saving them time and money.

The new online financial aid platform will allow students to submit paperwork electronically. Additionally, the completion grants are expected to help W students who are close to graduation and have an unmet financial need finish their degree on time.

Brooking said, “While we expect the initiatives supported by this grant to increase the university’s student persistence and completion rates, the largest impact will be for the students themselves. The achievement of a bachelor’s degree has a lasting impact, not only on our graduates, but also on their families for generations to come.”

WHEF is an endowed Mississippi non-profit organization that has focused its efforts on promoting increased postsecondary access among underrepresented students for nearly 25 years, and more recently, expanded its mission to also support increased credential completion within the state.

“The need to support students and to improve the rates of college completion among Mississippians has always existed. But, in light of COVID, the need has never been greater and more pressing,” said WHEF President and CEO Jim McHale. “According to Georgetown University, it is estimated that 65% of all jobs require some kind of postsecondary education. Currently, Mississippi sits at 45.2%. In order to improve the lives of Mississippians, to support Mississippi’s economic recovery and to competitively position our state within a global economy, there is a critical need to not only have more students enroll in college, but to have them successfully complete their degree or credential.”

In addition to the grant funding, WHEF will underwrite biennial IMPACT convening for all Mississippi public baccalaureate institutions, with the goal of creating a state-specific, facilitated community of practice for the exchange of findings, insights, and ideas; in addition, WHEF plans to provide coordinated access to high-quality professional development opportunities for institutional faculty and staff, innovations in data collection and usage, as well as platforms for peer learning.

“In addition to providing financial resources to individual schools, we hope to create a learning community where generative conversations about college success can happen,” said WHEF Program Officer and IMPACT Project Lead Shanell Watson. “Although each Mississippi institution has its own unique challenges and opportunities, they are also working to solve the same problems. Our goal with the IMPACT initiative is to provide a place where our universities can share with and learn from one another, for the betterment of all our students.”

The WHEF is committed to helping more Mississippians obtain postsecondary credentials, college certifications and degrees that lead to meaningful employment.

Since its inception, WHEF has worked to increase college access and entry for young people in Mississippi and has expanded that work to support promising practices that lead to college persistence and completion. The foundation envisions a Mississippi where all people can secure the training and education beyond high school that will allow them to advance their quality of life, strengthen their communities, and contribute to a vibrant and prosperous future for the state.


July 21, 2020
Contact: Tyler Wheat
(662) 241-7683
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