"It’s important to see outside evaluators are valuing the work we are doing."
When an institution’s efforts in working toward racial justice and equity are viewed as being meaningful and transformational, good things happen.
In light of Bridgewater State University’s work in these areas, as symbolized and energized by the work of the Special Presidential Task Force on Racial Justice, the state’s Board of Higher Education, as well as several other organizations, have provided the funding necessary to continue and scale impactful initiatives.
“It’s important to see outside evaluators are valuing the work we are doing,” said Dr. Sabrina Gentlewarrior, vice president of student success and diversity, who, along with Cecilia De’Oliveira, executive director of student success and equity interventions, was involved with attracting this funding and partnering with campus colleagues in implementing the many resulting programs and initiatives.
Some of the funding directly supports recommendations of the task force. For instance, in April 2022, BSU was approached by an anonymous donor after hearing numerous reports of the institution’s equity-oriented efforts and the positive outcomes supporting student success. Helping secure the funding was the fact that the university’s equity-centered work was informed by data that measured real success.
Ultimately, BSU secured $1,350,000 over two years to scale racially equitable student success interventions that have demonstrated positive outcomes in supporting all students and closing equity gaps. The donor requested that all funded activities demonstrate true effectiveness, aid BSU in building capacity within its programs and be sustainable after the external funding period comes to an end.
The donation chiefly benefited two programs – Bridgewater State University’s Retention Scholarship Program, which identifies students in good academic standing with genuine unmet financial need and unpaid tuition and fees that prevented them from registering for the upcoming semester. The program provides grants of up to $3,000 to help these students stay enrolled. The other program benefiting from the anonymous funding was the Student Navigator Program, which uses analytics to identify BSU students most in need of additional services to remain and succeed in school and then works with faculty and staff across campus in providing those services. The donor also agreed to fund a student success support platform to aid BSU in coordinating holistic student support.