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WCU Stories

Fund for WCU, 1889 Impact Grants provide online safety, success training for new students

world mental health day


By Bill Studenc

Twelve new incoming students at Western Carolina University were each recipients of a $500 grant award for completing online training courses on several topics designed to help them make a seamless transition to university life, thanks to $6,000 in financial support provided by the Fund for WCU.

The Division of Student Affairs regularly offers optional recommended online training modules on a variety of topics including mental health awareness, email safety and password security, diversity, alcohol and other drugs, active shooter responses and sexual violence prevention. More than one third of the new students offered these courses completed all seven training modules.

Through the 1889 Impact Grants Program, which is supported by contributions to the Fund for WCU, the division provided financial rewards to a dozen randomly selected incoming students as an incentive to complete all of the recommended on-line training modules.

The awards were applied to their personal student accounts to help pay for tuition and fees for the fall semester. For some students, the incentive meant a lower amount of loan debt and, for others, it reduced the amount they needed to pay out of pocket, said Sam Miller, vice chancellor for student affairs.

“Thanks to the support of donors to the Fund for WCU, a dozen grants were offered as incentives for new student members of the Catamount community to complete online training and information before the start of the 2023 fall semester,” Miller said. “These sessions are designed to equip students with additional knowledge to help them adjust to life on campus and be more successful.”

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.

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