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Create a Program for First-Generation Students

Raised toward our $20,000 Goal
68 Donors
Project has ended
Project ended on May 04, at 11:55 PM EDT
Project Owners

Create a Program for First-Generation Students

This project is complete. You can support First Generation Students by giving online.


Sarah came to Hope three years ago as the first in her family to attend college. While in high school, people encouraged her to go to college, but no one helped her to understand all the possibilities that becoming a college student would offer her. When she arrived on campus, she felt excited, but overwhelmed and even out-of-place.

Early in her first year, Sarah met a professor who was also the first in their family to have attended college. This chance encounter, and the relationship that developed, led Sarah to intentionally think through her strengths, her academic ability and her interests. She is currently exploring a major in Biology and imagining a career in STEM. More than that, she experienced a belonging within her new environment that helped her to thrive.  At Hope College, we want success stories like this to be the norm, not the exceptions left up to luck and good fortune.

As of September 2017, 499 Hope students were the first in their family to attend college. Many Hope College faculty and staff members were also the first in their family to attend college.

Like Sarah, these first-gen students are proud to be in college, independent and have family members who taught them the value of hard work. However, first-gens often enter a college environment designed for those who are already familiar with concepts of office hours, faculty mentoring, student research, a college registrar and a myriad of other “norms”. 

While the average first-gen student can have more motivation, independence and pride in education than others, they often struggle with coping skills, resilience, imposter syndrome, finances, anxiety, guilt in being away from home and few adult mentors who understand their unique experience. At Hope College, our team of first generation students, faculty, and staff recognize this reality and are working to make Hope’s campus an easier place for first-gen college students to navigate.

With your support of this crowdfunding project, we plan to launch a new program that will begin to provide:

  • A first-generation student union (a student group dedicated to creating a cohort of first-gens)
  • A first-gen student director who will implement initiatives in collaboration with professional staff members
  • Mentoring with first-gen faculty and staff
  • Idea grants for first-gen student research projects
  • Emergency funding
  • First-gen celebration events for new students
  • A first-gen resource library 

“Most first generation students do not need an expert to introduce them to the culture of college. They need a guide.” - Jeff Davis in the book The First Generation Student Experience

This crowdfunding campaign is ultimately about access. It is about transforming our campus culture so all students can access critical support systems and unique resources developed for them while at Hope College. By creating a network of guides that bring together each new cohort of first-generation students, we are certain that Hope can be a campus where first-gen students can thrive.

Thank you for your support. Please help spread the word! 

First Generation Student Vision Team: Bianca Reyes Alvarenga, Daniel Garland, Diana Cortes, Jocelyn Gallegos, Kesline Senesca, Marissa Solorzano, Noah Groth, Noemi Rocha, Nola Tolsma, and Yordanos Dessie

Advisors for the First Generation Student Union: Chris Bohle and Yoli Vega

First Generation Student Union Faculty/Staff Advisory Board and First Generation Students: Jayson Dibble, Llena Chavis, Cathy Mader, Beth Szczerowski, Paola Munoz, and Shannon Schans




Choose a giving level



Thank you for supporting Hope’s First Generation Student Union initiative. You recognize the potential and strengths in these students and are helping to facilitate their success.



Hope appreciates your support. Help spread the word about this new student initiative. You believe in access and the role of resources that equip students to thrive. You are appreciated!



Thank you for promoting and celebrating the pride, strong work ethic and resilience of first generation students. You are helping create a network of guides and critical support systems that honor the students’ life experiences.


Community Champion

You are a first generation champion, and Hope is grateful for your action! Your contribution helps transform our campus culture so that all students can flourish!