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Faulkner University Awarded $4.25 Million in Grants to Support Black Students

Faulkner University in Montgomery, Ala., has been awarded two grants meant to bolster opportunities for low-income and African American students, the university has announced.

The grants will provide Black students better access to mentors, academic coaches and student tutors, among other offerings.

The U.S. Education Department’s Predominantly Black Institution Competitive Grant and Formula Grant will provide Faulkner, which is associated with Churches of Christ, with $4.25 million over five years. These funds are being used to launch two projects, named Eagles Soar.

Eagles Soar I focuses on “enhanced academic coaching, supplemental instruction, peer-to-peer tutoring and a series of university-wide special initiatives to increase the numbers of African American students prepared for and seeking majors and careers in the STEM disciplines,” said Dave Rampersad, vice president of academic affairs, in a press release.

Meanwhile, Eagles Soar II focuses on “dedicated academic advising and retention services, improving the virtual and in-class learning environment, and training faculty on the latest teaching technology to enhance and improve existing online coursework.”

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A significant portion of Faulkner’s student body is minority—to qualify as a predominantly black institution for the grants, 40% of the undergraduate population must be African American.

Yet, minority students often “feel disconnected,” said Tiffany Cantrell, director of Faulkner Online. She believes these grants will help bridge the gap between these students and the school’s services.

Cindy Walker, director of Faulkner’s Quality Enhancement Plan, said programs to support minority students have been around but lacked proper funding to be successful.

“This grant allows us to have more people on the ground who have dedicated time to focus on helping students,” she said, and “provides Faulkner the opportunity to allow those involved the time needed to focus on ministering to our students in order to help them grow in a multiplicity of ways—including academic, social and personal.”

Don McKnight, who has been hired to direct Eagles Soar I, added that the grants provide “an extraordinary opportunity for Faulkner University to create and maintain permanent pathways for African American students … to earn college degrees and achieve the ‘American Dream.’  It’s no secret that education is the key to achieving success in America, and obtaining higher education increases the probability for greater success.”

This article was originally published by The Christian Chronicle