Summer 2018

Results of the funded programs


Aspiring Scholars Summer Bridge Program (Berks)

The Aspiring Scholars Summer Bridge Program aims to assist program participants (primarily African American and Hispanic/Latino, first-generation, and/or low-income) in their transition from high school to college. The purpose of the program is to introduce and acclimate students to campus and the college environment in a way that encourages success in the classroom, on campus, and in the community. This is accomplished through a one-week residential summer bridge program during which participants become familiar with the campus and surrounding community, learn about campus policies and expectations, interact with university professionals, as well as gain exposure to campus resources. Students receive classroom instruction focused on academic skills, self-reflection, and interactive team building activities all of which help build self-awareness, self-confidence, communication, decision making, problem solving, academic skills, and goal setting abilities. The assumption is that through summer bridge participation, students will be more successful students and more likely persist in higher education.

Community-Building Activities for PSU Altoona Engineering Ahead Summer Bridge (Altoona)

The Sustainable Bridges from Campus to Campus project (publicly known as Engineering Ahead; NSF IUSE #1525367, 2016 to 2020) seeks to accomplish three goals: (1) Increase retention in Engineering among racially underrepresented Engineering students by extending a successful summer bridge model and transition program to regional campuses in the Pennsylvania State University system, (2) Develop long-term sustainability plans for these programs, and (3) Compare the efficacy of three different bridge models. To address the urgent need to expand the pool of STEM graduates, especially racially underrepresented students, and consistent with the University foundational value of Fostering and Embracing a Diverse World, the Engineering Ahead project initiated new math-intensive summer bridge programs in 2016 at Penn State Abington, Altoona, and Berks to improve the retention and graduation rates among underrepresented Engineering students at Commonwealth Campuses. Underrepresented students in Engineering include African American, Hispanic, and Native students. This proposal seeks funding for community-building activities for the Engineering Ahead Altoona students for the Summer 2018 cohort. The PSU Altoona campus is not located near commercial areas. Funding is requested for social activities (and transportation) that promote community building among the bridge students and are not supported by current funding.

DC Social Justice Fellowship (University Park)

PSU Students participate in a 2-semester long program. Students learn about issues of social justice and educational equity in the spring course and teach an issue of choice in the summer (two week Maymester) to high school students in Washington, DC. While in DC, students take a course at Georgetown Law that teaches diversity and social justice competencies and work with various stakeholders in the D.C. area to address complex social issues. In addition to teaching responsibilities, students partner with civic leaders to explore research queries.

Launch Literacy Symposium (Brandywine)

First-generation and low-income students often struggle their first year of college. In addition to under-preparedness for academics, these students often lack the skills necessary to navigate higher education and require additional assistance in understanding how to handle their financial aid, employ study skills, and advance their motivation to succeed. Additionally, the growing trend of mental health issues among college students often impacts incoming students' ability to cope with college demands. This proposal seeks to address this need by piloting a series of workshops, or symposiums, along with a mentoring component, as an enhancement of our summer bridge program. This longstanding and effective program, entitled Launch, which is designed to improve the math and English abilities of the incoming students, often fails to address their other needs. In Summer 2018, weekly symposiums will be held on the topics of financial literacy, motivation, mental health, student information panel, and social interaction. Students will be engaged through the interactive style of the workshops, and lunch will be provided. In addition to the symposiums, a mentoring component will be included as students will meet with a peer mentor and the coordinators to ensure their unique concerns are addressed. To continue the learning gains after the program, student participants will receive a campus-specific weekly newsletter, and parents and families will receive their own monthly newsletter that revisits symposium topics along with tips for academic success. A financial incentive, in the form of a partial rebate of the Launch fee (in the form of Lion Cash) will also be offered.

Penn State Summer Leadership Keynote Speaker (University Park)

The Penn State Summer Leadership Conference Planning Committee requests EOPC funds which will be matched 1:1 to fund keynote speakers for this annual conference. These funds will help attract diverse and impactful speakers that can help advance and connect students to the vision of the conference in providing a challenging and motivating experience, where students will learn to be empowered, confident leaders, both personally and professionally, and will be inspired to lead purposeful lives while upholding the Penn State Values. More specifically the funds will be used to solicit speakers that can integrate culturally relevant content into student development theory and leadership.

Underrepresented Diverse Student Groups Pre-Med Mentorship Program (Hershey)

Penn State Hershey College of Medicine, Office for Diversity Equity and Inclusion proposes to provide support to its medical students who are members of underrepresented diverse student groups and coordinate an annual pre-medical mentorship program for undergraduate students who are considered underrepresented in medicine.

Welcome Week Interactive Theatre Pilot (University Park)

This Welcome Week Interactive Theatre Pilot will complement current University-wide education around the topics of sexual assault prevention/Title IX, diversity and inclusion, and alcohol and drug use/abuse. The initiative will bring together staff in Educational Equity, Student Affairs, Undergraduate Education, and the Center for Pedagogy in Arts and Design (C-PAD) to develop a brief musical theatre production that will deliver these important messages in an impactful way. The production will be performed to all new first-year students and include a talk-back with actors and members of the New Student Orientation Team. In line with the University's strategic plan's six foundations that support all University endeavors, this initiative will increase student engagement and work to foster and embrace diversity as foundations of our work. Additionally, this new initiative supports the following strategic priorities for Penn State -- Transforming Education and Advancing the Arts and Humanities. Specifically, we see a great fit with EOPC's mission to promote greater equity for historically underrepresented or underserved groups within the University. Similar interactive theatre initiatives around the country create low-barrier programming which provides both affirmation for underrepresented or underserved students and direct challenge and education for majority students.