WASHINGTON, DC – NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder
Foundation announced today a formal partnership to establish the Center for First-generation
Student Success (Center). Led by NASPA with $3M in seed funding from The Suder Foundation,
the Center will be devoted to increasing the research, scholarship, and effective practice
around first-generation student success and to expand both increased awareness in and
presence of evidence-based programs.
“With over one-third of today’s undergraduate students being the first in their families to
attend college and current literature presenting the barriers to success for these students,
NASPA welcomed this partnership as a means to provide necessary leadership and support to
our member-institutions and the higher ed community,” said Kevin Kruger, President of NASPA.
Early plans for the Center include a comprehensive landscape analysis to better understand the
current state of first-generation student services and programming across institutions of
differing types and establishment of an advisory board of institution leaders, scholars, and
practitioners to shape the direction of the Center. Opportunities for scholarly and professional
development related to first-generation student success through conferences, online learning,
convenings, learning communities, and the NASPA Annual Conference will also be a priority for
the Center. A convening of institutions actively engaged in first-generation student initiatives
will be announced in coming months.
The Center will expand the work of the existing First Scholars® program. Concerned with the
low completion rates of first-generation college students nationally, Eric and Deb Suder
established The Suder Foundation and launched First Scholars as a platform for providing
students the tools necessary to succeed. A priority of the Center will be the evolution and
expansion of the First Scholars network along with development of First Scholars models and
materials for availability to a breadth of institutions.
Eric Suder, the founder of The Suder Foundation added, “Deb and I are so pleased to announce
this partnership with NASPA. Not only does this expand the success of First Scholars, but NASPA
provides a central location for the production and growth of research and knowledge that is
critical to the success of first-generation students. We are excited to provide funding to the
Center, are committed to the strategic plan, and look forward to having an impact on firstgeneration success nationwide.”
Sarah E. Whitley recently joined NASPA as Senior Director of the Center for First-generation
Student Success and will lead infrastructure development and programmatic efforts.
The Center is based at NASPA in Washington, D.C. Visit the Center’s website to learn more
about the evolution and share information about current institutional first-generation
programs. An expanded website with content tracks by institutional type, a clearinghouse for
scholarly research and effective practices, current conversations about first-generation student
success, and opportunities to get involved will be announced soon. The Center is currently
active on Twitter using the handle @FirstgenCenter.
NASPA—Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education is the leading association for the
advancement, health, and sustainability of the student affairs profession. Our work provides
high-quality professional development, advocacy, and research for 15,000 members in all 50
states, 25 countries, and 8 U.S. territories. Visit naspa.org for more information.
About The Suder Foundation
The mission of The Suder Foundation (TSF) is to dramatically improve the graduation rate of
first-generation college students and prepare each scholar for a life with self-awareness,
success, and significance and to impact the culture of higher education for systemic first-gen