Northern Michigan University has successfully renewed a competitive U.S. Department of Education grant to continue the Upper Peninsula's only Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, which provides disadvantaged college students effective preparation for doctoral studies through research and other scholarly activities. NMU will receive about $1.3 million over five years.
“It is monumental that we have this funding to increase graduation rates and post-baccalaureate success among first-generation, low-income students, and students who come from a minority population that is underrepresented in graduate education,” said Lee Xiong, director of McNair Scholars and Freshman Fellowship at NMU. “This program is deeply rooted in social movement efforts tracing back to the civil rights movement and President Lyndon B. Johnson's War of Poverty legislation.
“Through leadership from faculty and staff at NMU, we are making a small but significant step in providing equitable resources and opportunities for students who have historically been underrepresented in graduate education.We are happy to have successfully renewed the grant for its fourth consecutive grant cycle.”
Institutions work closely with McNair Scholars as they complete their undergraduate requirements. They encourage participants to enroll in graduate programs and track their progress through to the successful completion of advanced degrees.
“When we look at U.S. students studying to become our future physicians, professors, scientists and other crucial professionals requiring graduate degrees, many demographic groups are underrepresented, including first-generation college students and those from low-income families,” said Nasser Paydar, assistant secretary, U.S. Office of Postsecondary Education. “McNair grants fund projects at universities and colleges that help underrepresented students to access doctoral programs.”
According to a press release, the grants deliver on U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona's priorities to expand equitable access to education and make higher education more inclusive and affordable.
Through McNair funding, universities and colleges provide students with scholarly opportunities such as summer internships and seminars. McNair-funded initiatives also prepare students for doctoral study through tutoring, academic counseling, and assistance with gaining admission to and securing financial assistance for graduate programs. McNair projects may also enhance students' financial and economic literacy, provide mentoring and expose participants to cultural events and academic programs not usually available to disadvantaged students.
The McNair program is one of seven federal TRIO programs, targeted to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to postbaccalaureate programs.
On Aug. 18, the U.S. Department of Education announced 189 recipients nationwide that will receive a share of $51.7 million in total funding through the grant competition. Several additional McNair awards will be announced on a second slate, expected in September.
Northern typically selects 10-14 McNair Scholars each year. For more information on NMU's program, visit nmu.edu/mcnairscholars.