TAMU-CC Receives $1.5 Million Grant to Create Greater Texas Foundation Islander Scholars Program

TAMU-CC launches new scholarship program

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is the proud recipient of a $1.5 million grant from Greater Texas Foundation. The funding will support the creation of the Greater Texas Foundation Islander Scholars Program. To learn more, visit tamucc.edu/greater-texas-foundation.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – For its commitment to student successes, specifically for first-generation, low income, and historically underserved groups, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is the proud recipient of a $1.5 million grant from Greater Texas Foundation (GTF). The funding will support the creation of the Greater Texas Foundation Islander Scholars Program, which will assist Texas Early College High School (ECHS) graduates with their transition from high school to the Island University through bachelor’s degree completion with financial and non-financial assistance. Eight Texas institutions, including TAMU-CC, were selected to participate in the foundation’s third iteration of the program. The foundation has committed $12 million across eight campuses over the next eight years. The money will support the Island University’s new program for the next eight years.

“We were impressed with TAMU-CC’s strong commitment to affordability and support services for the students on their campus,” said Sue McMillin, GTF President and CEO. “We are so excited to watch what they do with the Islander GTF Scholars Program and are anxious to see their first cohort of student come together this fall.”

An ECHS is defined by the Texas Education Agency as open-enrollment high school that allows students least likely to attend college an opportunity to receive both a high school diploma and either an associate degree or at least 60 credit hours toward a baccalaureate degree. TAMU-CC has partnered with many ECHSs throughout the area over the years and is in the process of expanding its partnership with additional ECHS campuses.

Dr. Jerel Benton, TAMU-CC Associate Vice President of Student Success, served as principal investigator for the grant. D’Angelo Sands, TAMU-CC Executive Director of College Access and Outreach, will provide program oversight and leadership.

“The partnership between TAMU-CC and Greater Texas Foundation is a perfect fit,” Benton said. “A clearer, more affordable pathway to college means our Islander students will thrive. Over the years, GTF scholars from across the country have had significantly better outcomes in persistence, graduation, and loan debt compared to their peers, and we’re happy to join the GTF Scholars family.”  Starting in fall 2023, the Islander GTF Scholars Program will accept up to 40 students who will receive need-based scholarships, along with multiple high-impact practices, including peer coaching, workshops, social gatherings, and additional and intentional milestone celebrations, all with the goal of ensuring students graduate within four years.

Students in the first year of the GTF Islander Scholars Program also will take part in a living-learning community, which is a residential program where a diverse group of students live in the same residential hall and/or building and share academic experiences, attend campus events as a cohort, and participate in group service projects. They will also participate in a first-year seminar course, which brings small groups of students together in a learning community with faculty or staff on a regular basis. The learning community places strong emphasis on critical inquiry, frequent writing, information literacy, collaborative learning, and other skills that develop students’ intellectual and practical competencies.

“Higher education research has shown that students who participate in a learning community boost their chances of academic success, broaden their learning experiences, get to know their classmates and professors better, and are more likely to be highly engaged in their academics,” Sands said. “Furthermore, the living-learning community allows for social connections to be established and for students to have common academic experiences during their first year together.”

Students in the GTF Islanders Scholars Program will also be assigned a Student Success Network made of up faculty, academic advisors, academic success coaches, and others who will all be connected via the Starfish Network, an online case management system.“One feature of our system is an early alert feature that raises ‘flags’ to notify students and their network when a student could benefit from additional support,” Sands said. “In addition, the system has a ‘to-do’ feature that communicates assignments and deadlines. Starfish can also give students positive feedback via the ‘kudos’ feature.”

To learn more about applying to the Islander GTF Scholars Program, visit tamucc.edu/greater-texas-foundation. Priority application deadline is May 1.