First Scholars

First Scholars is an ecosystem of processes, tools, and guidance designed to work with your institution’s specific environment. Institutions that participate in First Scholars will have access to all of these resources, our team of Expert Guidance, and more.

See below to read more about the benefits of participation and how to become part of the First Scholars Network.


First Scholars is a registered trademark of NASPA and the Center for First-generation Student Success. All materials are proprietary and may not be reproduced.

First Scholars Integrated Framework

The First Scholars Framework is intentionally grounded in higher education scholarship and evidence-based practical application, thereby increasing successful outcomes for first-generation students and the institutions that serve them. This Framework consists of both evidence-based approaches to holistic first-generation student success, referred to as Student-centered Actionable Outcomes, and strategic, institution-level shifts, referred to as Institution-focused Actionable Outcomes. Each actionable outcome is an overarching goal by which the institution can measure its success. This integrated framework, and the outcomes within, are designed to be nimble and reflective of the mission and strategic priorities of the Institution.

Click here to view an in-depth description of the First Scholars Integrated Framework.


A community of institutional partners committed to transforming the higher education landscape in ways that elevate potential and advance outcomes for first-generation students today and in the future. Through a number of engagement opportunities, this network will maximize learning opportunities across a broad, diverse, ever-expanding set of institutions.

Expert Guidance

Expert Guidance is a hallmark offering of the First Scholars experience that provides step-by-step guidance to assist institutions in evaluating areas of success for scaling and gap areas for growth. Personalized support occurs across the lifespan of the initiative. Expert guidance is designed to meet you where you are and help you move forward.


First Scholars Solutions include the First Scholars Network Learning Hub and First Scholars Toolkits. The Learning Hub offers access to curated resources, articles, and online learning as well as institution-specific reports and opportunities for peer-to-peer communication and sharing.

First Scholars Toolkits are pre-packaged, turn-key approaches for implementing a program or service with ease. Toolkits cover a wide variety of topics and are structured with multiple deployment methods in mind. New products will be posted here soon!


First Scholars Diagnostics are a collection of proprietary tools used to gauge readiness to participate in First Scholars and for taking a deeper dive into how your institution is serving first-generation students programmatically. These tools help determine in what ways your institution is systematically prepared to advance efforts.

The Institutional Readiness Assessment serves as a data collection mechanism that determines your institution’s readiness for engagement in First Scholars. This assessment also informs our approach to tailoring your institution’s Expert Guidance and plays a role in informing what actionable outcomes an institution should focus time and resources on.

The Insights Tool provides a deep dive into how an institution programmatically serves first-generation students and how systemically prepared the institution is to advance efforts to further support first-generation students. Consisting of a variety of institutional affiliated modules, the Insights Tool supports full engagement of the institutional community. Upon completion of the Insights Tool, the institution receives a robust report with recommendations and a site visit by the institution's Expert Guidance team to further discuss implementation and priority alignment.

Alongside the Institutional Readiness Assessment and Insights Tool, First Scholars partners with the National Student Clearinghouse to participate in the Postsecondary Data Partnership (PDP). This partnership provides strategic data solutions to support and inform learning across and within institutions; identify patterns in academic outcomes, retention, and completion; and elevate analysis and reporting that matters most to First Scholars institutions.




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

Contact Us

To learn more about First Scholars and how participation will advance first-generation student success at your institution, please submit the Interest Form below. Once our team receives your form, we will send you a detailed message containing additional information about participation.

First Scholars Interest Form