Institutions apply for entry into the First Scholars Network. Once accepted, your institution will begin in the Network Member phase.
Powered by the Center for First-generation Student Success, the First Scholars Network offers a national model for scaling holistic first-generation student success by engaging and empowering higher education institutions to transform the first-generation student experience, advance academic and co-curricular outcomes, and build more inclusive institutional structures.
The First Scholars Network is a journey for higher education institutions serving as the backbone for this national scaling model, bringing together higher education leaders from around the country to share data, model innovations, and scale impact to first-gen student support.
We invite you to explore the four phases that make up the First Scholars Network journey for an institution upon joining the Network. New institutions will begin in the Network Member phase of the Network with the goal of progressing through the journey to become a Champion Campus!
Today’s higher education landscape seeks intentional change to dismantle systemic barriers limiting students’ ability to succeed and thrive. With over half of currently enrolled undergraduate students identifying as first-generation, institution leaders increasingly prioritize first-generation success as imperative to their overall institutional success—progression through the First Scholars Network positions institutions to build-out retention resources to protect return on investment.
Benefits to joining the First Scholars Network:
The First Scholars Network currently serves 349 institutions spanning 49 states and the District of Columbia. Our institutions are represented by dedicated professionals prepared to share evidence-based practices and resources, address challenges, generate knowledge, and continue to advance the success of first-generation students. Ultimately, all Network institutions strive for national leadership as a First Scholars Champion Campus.
The future is first-gen, and we have a commitment to growing the First Scholars Network to over 700 institutions in the next five years.
Be an active, accredited, two-year or four-year institution of higher education located within the United States;
Maintain NASPA Institutional membership; if selected for the Network, institutions without a membership will be required to join;
Secure cabinet-level leadership support and commitment to participation; and
Designate an institution Leadership Team
Each phase of the Network has unique eligibility and programmatic requirements that are detailed in those sections.
For over a decade, The Suder Foundation generously provided scholarship funds to support the holistic success of first-generation college students at select institutions. Along with those scholarship funds, students also participated in the original First Scholars’ comprehensive, cohort-based model designed to provide holistic student support services across their academic career and to prepare them for success post-completion. First Scholars® has evolved to more closely align with the transformational vision of its founders, Eric and Deborah Suder, who have devoted their life’s work to driving systemic innovation for first-generation students.
The First Scholars Network fulfills that vision by creating a multi-faceted approach to student success on a nationally scalable level. With the Center for First-generation Student Success opening in June 2017, the First Scholars Network now serves as the Center’s signature scaling model and the first-of-its-kind specific to the first-generation population.
First Scholars and First-gen Forward are registered trademarks. All materials are proprietary and may not be reproduced.
From February 1, 2024, through March 22, 2024, institutions who completed the Interest Form will receive the link to the Readiness and Progress Audit to apply to join the Network.
Institutions who submit the Interest Form below will also receive access to our Information Sessions, Readiness and Progress Audit Content Guide, and an E-Learning Module.
We invite you to utilize the Center's resources, follow us on social media @FirstgenCenter, and reach out at [email protected] with other questions. Thanks for your commitment to serving first-generation students!