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One America, a nine-day community service road trip, provided a small group of Bay Path University first-generation undergraduates with a wide variety of public service and cultural experiences and exposure to how other Americans live. It was one of the most successful features of this broad-based CIC/Walmart Foundation College Success Awards program. Thirty students on two trips bonded with each other and with a faculty member and student life staff member. A community service element was added in the second year, and this proved to be a successful collaboration between the academic and student life programs.
   
Bay Path also used its CIC/Walmart Award to:
  1. Strengthen its leadership program by adding elements to its ropes course, train facilitators, and refine the leadership course curriculum;
  2. Strengthen New Student Orientation by integrating a day-long community service program;
  3. Refocus the college’s Generations Program (formerly called the Mother’s Day Banquet) by including several generations of women influential in students’ lives;
  4. Introduce a job shadowing program, which included 16 students who participated in this one-day program;
  5. Sponsor student/faculty research projects. Future efforts will include a stipend for faculty participants;
  6. Expand peer tutoring, which was described by participating first-generation students as a “lifeline”;
  7. Expand the Connector Program; and
  8. Strengthen the Summer Read Program. Team leaders worked with First-Year Experience faculty members to co-facilitate discussion of the Summer Read at New Student Orientation.
 

Program Outcomes

The program has forged stronger connections among first-generation students—who regularly comprise 70 percent or more of the student population—and with others at the college and in the surrounding community. The college’s first-to-second-year retention rate for first-generation college students averaged 69 percent for the three years prior to the grant. After the first year of the CIC/Walmart-supported program, the retention rate increased to 79 percent. Of the students who participated in three or more of the CIC/Walmart initiatives in their first two years, 91 percent were retained; 100 percent who participated in faculty/student research projects, a leadership conference in Washington, DC, or the job shadowing program persisted with improved academic performance over what was expected of this population.
 
The institution also was strengthened by several new or improved initiatives that will impact all students—not only first-generation students—in the years ahead.

 

Program Updates

Despite the costs, the One America trip has been sustained and continues to receive high marks from participants.