By Bill Studenc
Seventeen Western Carolina University students participated in the trip of a lifetime last spring through an eight-day international learning experience for conditionally admitted students who successfully completed the Academic Success Program, thanks to support from the Fund for WCU.
The students, accompanied by ASP staff chaperones, visited Buenos Aires, Argentina, in March 2023. The trip was made possible by $15,000 in financial support from the 1889 Impact Grants Program, funded by donations to the Fund for WCU.
While in Argentina, the students helped revitalize a community garden at a facility for independent adults with intellectual disabilities, visited a rural ranch where they enjoyed farm-raised foods and watched traditional Argentinian dancing and horse-riding competitions, and toured a museum highlighting the horrors of the nation’s “Dirty War,” a period of dictatorship and state-sponsored tourism.
For most of the students, it was their first international travel experience, said Carson Williams, senior adviser for the Academic Success Program.
“The things these students learned went beyond the classroom, beyond terms and tests and projects,” Williams said. “Each student learned something about themselves and even more about the world we live in and affect every day. The impact that ASP Abroad 2023 and the generosity of the 1889 Impact Grant committee had on our students will not be quickly forgotten.”
Designed to help ensure a successful transition to university life, ASP is a conditional admission initiative featuring a five-week summer bridge program that participating students must complete in order to attend fall semester. It focuses on building academic skills and utilizing campus resources and provides ongoing support throughout the ensuing fall semester with an additional transitions course.
Launched in 2021, the 1889 Impact Grants Program is designed to provide a consistent source of funding for colleges and other units at WCU in support of initiatives that enhance the engagement of alumni and community stakeholders with the philanthropic activities of the university.
Funding for the program comes from annual contributions to the Fund for WCU, including leadership gifts from members of the 1889 Club, which recognizes donors for gifts made on an annual basis to the Fund for WCU. The club, among four giving societies established by the Division of Advancement to celebrate the impact of philanthropy on the institution, is named in honor of the year of WCU’s founding.
Campus partners requested more than $200,000 in 1889 Impact Grants through 16 campuswide grant applications for the 2022-2023 academic year, and the Division of Advancement allocated $43,500 overall for eight awards, a slight increase from the inaugural $40,000 in grant funding awarded last year.
The WCU Foundation Board Executive Committee reviews all submissions and selects the awardees in the fall of each year. In addition to the 1889 Impact Grants Program, the Fund for WCU provides first-year access scholarships to new incoming freshmen and supports ongoing donor stewardship efforts.
Learn more about how the Fund for WCU and 1889 Impact Grants provided support for this project.