First-Generation College Celebration (FGCC) is an annual opportunity to raise awareness of the first-generation college student identity by advancing an asset-based, national narrative of these students’ experiences and outcomes.

Since the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) and the Center for First-generation Student Success launched the inaugural celebration in 2017, hundreds of higher education institutions, corporations, non-profits, and K-12 schools have joined together in recognizing the achievements of the first-gen community on and around November 8.

This year, leverage Celebration Day to deepen your community’s understanding of the systemic barriers plaguing higher education and the supports necessary for this resilient population to continue thriving across education, career, and life.

Share Your 2023 Plans

Why Celebrate on November 8

FGCC is celebrated annually on November 8 to commemorate the signing of the Higher Education Act (“HEA”) of 1965 by then-President Lyndon B. Johnson. This act created federal financial aid programs to fund students’ educations and made key investments in colleges and universities. Many of the HEA’s programs, particularly the Federal TRIO programs, promote postsecondary access, retention, and completion for today’s limited-income, first-generation college students.

FGCC strives not only to celebrate first-gen students’ contributions to their communities but also to occasion systemic social change by dismantling barriers to first-generation student success. Through this intentional advocacy focus, FGCC engages key constituencies in building upon the work left unfinished by the HEA. 

Click here to learn more about the HEA, the creation of Federal TRIO programs, and the history of National First-Generation College Celebration.

Plan Your Celebration

This year, we encourage you to celebrate the successes of first-generation college students, faculty, staff, alumni, and professionals in every way possible! From launching strategic plans to inviting speakers to leading professional development events for faculty and staff, the possibilities for celebration are endless. 

At many institutions and organizations, single-day celebrations have spawned week-long, or even month-long, awareness and advocacy campaigns. Below, you will find everything you need to begin planning your 2023 event(s), including examples from last year’s participants!

Be sure to tag @COEtalk and @FirstgenCenter and use the #CelebrateFirstGen when sharing information about your plans across social media!

Add Your 2023 #CelebrateFirstGen Plans to This Page

2023 Celebration Plans

Resources for TRIO Programs

To support the many ways that institutional Federal TRIO fund recipients participate in FGCC, COE created this guide, which outlines the applicable regulations for each TRIO project related to Celebration Day. This includes the three areas in which supplies are allowable costs: supplies needed for project recordkeeping, supplies needed for project administration, and supplies needed for participant development, or delivering services to participants.

Review the Full Guide

National Events

Each year, the Center and COE co-host event(s) to elevate Celebration Day’s national profile.

The 2022 National First-Generation College Celebration Virtual Event featured a panel, moderated by Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier, discussing the first-generation adult learner identity. Panelists Dr. Kelly Brochu, Matt Donovan, and Dr. Vanessa Sheared reflected upon their unique experiences and shared resources for serving this population.

Stay tuned for more information on our 2023 offerings, which will include both a place-based and virtual opportunity. In the meantime, you can review the full recordings of past events below!

2021 Virtual Event

Grant Opportunity

Please join the Center, COE, and our sponsors–Strada Education Foundation and MasteryPrep–in congratulating the 53 outstanding recipients of the 2023 Grant Opportunity!


Each year, we’re pleased to award grants to select NASPA- and COE-member institutions to aid them in reaching more first-generation college students or graduates; engaging more stakeholders; launching new first-gen-specific events or initiatives; and/or providing additional services around FGCC.


Congratulations to our past Grant Opportunity recipients!

Congressional Resolution

Led by Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS), a bipartisan team of senators helped steer S. Res. 437 to passage under unanimous consent, helping to solidify the importance of November 8 as a day to recognize the contributions and accomplishments of first-generation college students. You can view the resolution’s text and list of 19 bipartisan cosponsors below.

Senate Resolution

Past Celebrations