First Scholars Elevate Potential

First Scholars is an ecosystem of processes, tools, and guidance designed to work with your institution’s specific environment.


>FS Focused Icon



FS Scalable Icon



FS Innovative Icon



FS Data-driven Icon


Data Driven

FS Confident Icon




For over a decade, The Suder Foundation generously provided scholarship funds to support the holistic success of first-generation college students at select institutions. In partnership with 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® (Center) opening in June 2017, the First Scholars Network is poised to become the Center’s signature scaling model and the first-of-its-kind specific to the first-generation population.

First Scholar Elevate Potential Full Color


Beyond graduation and retention rates, first-generation students hold some of your institution’s most promising potential. What works for their most meaningful success also reinvigorates the entire learning community.

  • First Scholars Network

    The First Scholars Network is a community of institutional partners committed to transforming the higher education landscape through systemic, scalable approaches that elevate potential and advance outcomes for first-generation students today and in the future. The First Scholars Network utilizes Expert Guidance paired with an intentionally designed Insights Tool to identify areas of potential progress for holistic student support. By leveraging the First Scholars integrated framework and comprehensive, evidence-based Solutions, our institutional partners are prepared to offer a wide range of opportunities for institutional and first-generation student success. The current First Scholars Network is comprised of Kansas State University, Northern Arizona University, and the University of Memphis.

  • First Scholars Integrated Framework

    First Scholars offers a comprehensive, integrated framework grounded in scholarly and evidence-based approaches institutions can utilize to propel systemic transformation and confidently facilitate holistic support across the academic career of first-generation students.

  • First Scholars Expert Guidance

    A hallmark of the First Scholars experience, individualized, tailored Expert Guidance will unlock proven approaches and position your institution to be a leader in first-generation student success.

  • First Scholars Insights Tool

    An intentionally designed inventory primed to examine institutional capacity to implement systemic cultural shifts and provides a roadmap for implementing the First Scholars experience and scaling first-generation student success efforts.

  • First Scholars Solutions

    Generated from empirical research and evidence-based practice, First Scholars Solutions address the immediate needs of administrators and practitioners with viable, scalable initiatives and programmatic toolkits customizable to the institution.

First Scholars Integrated Framework

Learning Hub

Learning Hub

Contact Us

Currently, we are not accepting new institutions into the First Scholars Network. However, if you would like your institution to be considered for the upcoming cohort, please complete this form.