Centre College receives anonymous $10 million gift to support first-generation students

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Centre College has received a $10 million gift from an anonymous donor to support access to study abroad, internships, and other educational opportunities for first-generation students. The gift will enable Centre to provide all incoming first-generation students with $5,000 in enrichment funding in addition to their generous financial aid package.

“This donor’s transformative gift will ensure access and opportunity for bright, deserving students, regardless of their economic need, said President Milton C. Moreland. “We are deeply grateful for this generous support which will help level the playing field and provide first-generation students with opportunities to increase their independence, and career-readiness. Centre is one of the only colleges in the United States offering this level of support to all first-generation students.”

The funds may be used to pursue experiential learning opportunities such as independent research, entrepreneurship programming, professional internships, and study abroad experiences. First-generation students may also use these funds to pay for a laptop, textbooks, or any emergencies.

Centre is nationally recognized as an institution that provides extensive support and resources to transform the lives of talented first-generation students. Last week, Centre received a $1 million grant to join the Kessler Scholars Collaborative, a national network of first-generation focused institutions. The Kessler Scholars are Centre’s second scholarship devoted to high-achieving first-generation students.

Since the launch of the Grissom Scholars Program, a full-tuition-plus scholarship initiative for first-generation students, Centre has increased the percentage of first-generation students from 8.9 percent to 21 percent in part greatly due to a 2015 gift from former board chair, David Grissom, and his wife, Marlene.

“Research has shown that students who engage in high impact practices—such as internships, study abroad, and undergraduate research—are more likely to thrive in college and beyond,” said Sarah Scott, associate dean of Admission and director of the Grissom Scholars Program. “This funding could include a laptop in their first year, a paid internship after their second year, and an airline ticket to one of our faculty-led study abroad destinations during their third year.”

Centre offers $41 million in scholarships and grants annually, with more than 90 percent of its students receiving some sort of need-based or merit aid. This, Scott explains, combined with the enrichment support and resources this gift provides to ensure experiential learning opportunities, is “unparalleled” in the nation.

Further, with this new commitment, Centre will add two additional full-time staff positions to support talented first-generation, Pell-eligible, and undocumented students, creating a structure to provide comprehensive mentoring and wrap-around services that align with the College’s focus on student success and career preparation—key components of Centre’s new strategic plan.

“We believe that first-generation students are primed to thrive, and we are excited to see how this extraordinary financial commitment will transform lives,” Scott concludes. “I am proud to be at an institution that understands the inherent leadership potential associated with being first in the family to get a four-year college degree.”