Students attending Mississippi public universities will benefit from a five-year, multi-million dollar 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.
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.
“According to Georgetown University, it is estimated that 65% of all jobs require some kind of postsecondary education. Currently, Mississippi sits at 40.9%,” said WHEF President and CEO Jim McHale. “In order to improve the lives of Mississippians 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.”
A competitive request for proposals process will open in November 2019, with grantee awards announced in spring of 2020. Eligible institutions will use data-informed approaches to identify, implement, and scale innovative solutions aimed at strengthening the retention, persistence and completion of student populations that pose greater risks for non-completion.
In addition to $2.6 million in available grant funding, WHEF will underwrite biennial IMPACT convenings 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, according to WHEF Program Officer and IMPACT Project Lead Shanell Watson.
“In addition to providing financial resources to individual schools, we hope to create a learning community where generative conversations about college success can happen,” Watson said. “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.”
For more information about WHEF or the IMPACT grant initiatives, contact WHEF Director of Communications and IMPACT Courtney Lange.