The TRIO Student Support Services program at Purdue University Fort Wayne has received $1.3 million in funding for the next five years through the U.S. Department of Education.

TRIO SSS is designed to provide academic and other support services to income-eligible, first-generation, or students with disabilities in an effort to increase students’ retention and graduation rates. It is also intended to foster an institutional climate supportive of these student populations.

“In the past five years, the percentage of students who remain in the program from year to year has averaged 87%,” program director Shubitha Kever said in a news release. “SSS participants in good academic standing — meaning their grade-point averages are 2.0 or better — have averaged 94%, and the project’s four-year graduation rate is roughly 40%.”

Program services include instructional workshops for first-generation students; peer mentoring; academic, financial, or personal coaching; assistance in securing admission and financial aid for enrollment in graduate and professional programs; guidance on career options; and cultural activities.

Purdue Fort Wayne’s TRIO SSS program has been serving students since 2010. Each year, TRIO SSS assists 140 students to meet their academic goals of persisting and graduating from Purdue Fort Wayne. The program’s funding for the 2020–21 academic year is $261,888, with nearly $4 million in external funding amassed over the past decade.

Kenneth Christmon, associate vice chancellor of admissions at Purdue Fort Wayne, was the university’s director of the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs and coauthor of the original grant requesting the federal funding for the program when it was established. Kever has been the director of TRIO SSS programming for more than eight years.

“Under Shubitha’s leadership, the program has repeatedly met and exceeded its goals related to student retention and success to graduation,” Christmon said in the news release. “During this same time, she has become one of the nation’s top experts on first-generation student development and retention programming.”

“Students who qualify for our services but don’t take advantage of them struggle more than their TRIO SSS counterparts,” said Kever. “We have proven that our interventions help at-risk students succeed in great numbers here at PFW. We look forward to continuing the outstanding and innovative services we’ve been providing for a decade and helping future Mastodons for the next five years.”

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