Daily News

Elms College Receives Nearly $300,000 Grant

CHICOPEE — The College of Our Lady of the Elms has received a grant of $263,817 from the Davis Educational Foundation for the college’s new ASPIRE (Academic Success Program Impacting Retention and Engagement) program.

Central to Elms College’s mission is a commitment to ensure educational success for all students, including those who are traditionally underserved. The main goal of ASPIRE is to help all students successfully finish their degrees by offering dedicated resources and support throughout their studies at Elms College.

“ASPIRE is designed to provide the most critical resources for a comprehensive approach to student success,” said Joyce Hampton, Ed.D., director of student success at Elms and project director for the grant. “We are pleased that the Davis Educational Foundation is partnering with us to provide additional resources for those we serve at Elms College.”

Using the grant funding, the program will create a comprehensive space for a Student Success Center on campus with dedicated academic resources and services, install software programs that facilitate advising and tutoring, and provide professional development in diversity for faculty and staff.

Establishing the Student Success Center will involve renovating the second floor of the Alumnae Library to house the Academic Resource Center/Peer Tutoring, the Student Accommodation and Support Services (SASS) office, student success coaches, and the director of advising. A new conference room will allow for private meetings with students or groups. The Student Success Center also will include expanded technological resources, new computers, collaborative-learning tech-enabled furniture, and access to wireless Internet. Peer tutors and success coaches will work with students either in collaborative learning spaces with loaner laptops or at the drop-in learning lab, equipped with high-tech workstations.

Elms College will use CampusLabs’ Beacon advising software and Baseline outcomes-assessment software programs to track student needs and progress; TutorTrac will integrate student and tutor information to ensure better student tutoring experiences. Data from Student Success Center programs and curricular/co-curricular assessments will allow the college to understand better which student outcomes are being met, and to use that feedback adjust accordingly.

“Today’s Elms students are more diverse, and we want to be better prepared to serve them well,” Hampton said. To foster cultural competency, faculty and staff will participate in process-oriented, multi-session professional development.

This spring, Elms College was ranked in the top five of the list of 314 private colleges in Eduventures’ annual retention ratings, which pay tribute to the institutions that best help their students navigate to graduation. Programs like ASPIRE will help Elms guide even more students from the first day of school to commencement. “The ASPIRE program fits with our mission, and we are very excited to see it take shape for our students,” Hampton said.

The Davis Educational Foundation of Yarmouth, Me., was established by Stanton and Elisabeth Davis after Mr. Davis’s retirement as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets Inc. This new grant builds on funding the foundation previously provided Elms for the college’s Office of Institutional Assessment and Research, which enabled the college to understand its student success needs, Hampton added. “The grant letter cites our productive use of institutional research and clear student-success focus as two primary reasons they decided to fund ASPIRE,” she said.

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