Awarded Grants

Click below to see how we are working in Mississippi communities.

This program enables two Mississippi community colleges (selected via an RFP process), to join the Achieving the Dream (ATD) network of more than 222 institutions nationwide, and counting!  These two colleges will work for four years to improve persistence and completion rates on their campuses with the support of all the talent and resources of ATD, including its staff, coaches, and peer learning opportunities as well as ATD’s capacity building methodology that enables colleges to examine their own data and then create action plans to achieve goals that they set and make progress towards in coordination with ATD. Read more about this awarded grant here.Achieving the Dream was convened by the Lumina Foundation in 2004 as a comprehensive non-governmental reform movement for student success. Together with a national network of higher education institutions, coaches and advisors, state policy teams, investors and partners, more than 4 million community college students have a better economic opportunity and achieve their dreams. Learn more at

In partnership with the State Financial Aid Department, the Institution of Higher Learning has been granted funds to develop a collaborative and interactive website. This platform will allow users may successfully navigate resources to assist in their higher education journey and increase engagement among K-12 and postsecondary audiences. This website will be a knowledge-base for virtual resource for educators, parents, counselors, high school, college, and nontraditional students. See the current state financial aid website here.

Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society has 34 chapters in Mississippi’s 15 community colleges. In 2015, nearly 4,000 students accepted membership, but this number represents only 15 percent of the 26,500 Mississippi students who were extended membership invitations. Phi Theta Kappa received its initial grant from WHEF to fund membership scholarships for 750 low-income Mississippi community college students. This grant is has been renewed and evaluated with positive reports for student persistence and completion for the 2016-17 school year. To be eligible for Phi Theta Kappa membership, students must generally have a 3.5 GPA and completed at least 12 credit hours at a community college. The organization then works with them throughout the remainder of their academic careers to encourage and support completion through honors programs, leadership and service opportunities and scholarship funds. Learn more at

WHEF supported Springboard to Opportunities for the annual Run for Our Community which funds children’s savings accounts for students in the residence areas.  Research shows that children who have a savings account for college are more likely to go to college than children without savings.  It’s not about the amount of money in the account but simply having the account can dramatically increase the student’s expectations for college. Whether the funding source is the family or the community, the student knows that someone is investing in them.Springboard To Opportunities connects families living in affordable housing with resources and programs that help them advance themselves in school, work and life. We do this by working directly with families, as well as by establishing strategic partnerships with other organizations that help residents achieve their goals. Learn more at

WHEF will support one of the nation’s largest regional associations of grantmakers, serving more than 330 of the most dynamic foundations and corporate giving programs in the South. The Southeastern Council of Foundations (SECF) works in partnership with members in 11 Southeastern states to serve, strengthen, promote, and champion the South’s philanthropic voice and infrastructure through engaging programming, leadership development training, access to unique resources and invaluable connections. By encouraging insightful philanthropic collaboration, SECF creates opportunities to increase the region’s grantmaking impact and empower transformational community change. Learn more at

Specifically designed to improve student persistence and completion by helping students make a better transition from high school to college, New Maroon helps incoming freshmen have a strong start prior to their first full semester. This summer bridge style program provides participants with the opportunity for individualized instruction, quality advising, and near-peer environment that helps students succeed during their freshman years.Complimentary to New Maroon is the College Ready program which allows admitted freshmen to attend MSU summer school prior to their first fall semester to assist and receive proactive support for anticipated remediation. Students attend a credit-bearing study skills course, which introduces skills needed to be successful in the prerequisite course, as well as additional campus resources that are available throughout the entire college experience. New Maroon and College Ready programs are intended to remove common barriers that limit student success, from housing transitions to college counseling engagement. Learn more at

The Mississippi Association of Grantmakers (MAG) is in the process of developing an Education Funders Affinity Group. Members will be comprised of current MAG members that are interested in education issues in Mississippi. They plan to orient new and existing funders as they learn about philanthropy’s involvement and investments in education, engage key expert relations, and define potential roles for philanthropy, beyond funding, to increase impact in policy and systems change efforts along the education continuum. MAG is a statewide, membership-based organization that functions a trade association for philanthropy in the state membership organization created to provide services and supports to entities that allocate resources to improve the well-being of children, families, and communities in Mississippi. Members represent approximately 70% of the philanthropic assets in the state of Mississippi. Learn more at