C of I honored for assisting first-generation students

The College of Idaho’s success in helping more first-generation Latino students graduate is featured in a new report by the Council of Independent Colleges titled “Making Sure They Make It! Best Practices for Ensuring the Academic Success of First-Generation College Students.” The C of I also is featured on the recently launched CIC/Wal-Mart College Success Awards website The report summarizes the experiences of 50 colleges and universities that received grants from CIC/Wal-Mart Foundation to help strengthen programs that support the education of first-generation students.

The C of I received a $100,000 grant in 2008 from the CIC/Wal-Mart College Success Awards program to enhance programming specifically for first-generation Latino students. At the time, the College enrolled 51 first-generation Latino students, a number that has more than doubled thanks to initiatives that include adding scholarships for students with financial need and creating a common area with laptop computers in McCain Student Center specifically for Latino students.

“The goal of the program was to attract first-generation Latino students to the College and to do everything we could to help them stay in school,” said Arnold Hernandez, director of multicultural affairs at the C of I. “And it has worked. The grant has allowed us to generate a sense of home for Latino students on campus, and the students are graduating at a rate of more than 80 percent.”  

The grant also enabled the C of I to bolster its ESL and Spanish language resources on campus, helping fund new software, computers, Spanish-speaking tutors and enhanced academic offerings. The grant money also helped sponsor a variety of leadership and cultural enrichment activities including an annual Latino cultural dinner, a family orientation program and career awareness events.

The College of Idaho and the 49 other participating institutions were selected through a competitive application process. Forty institutions received $100,000 and ten received $50,000 to help build upon programs that showed the greatest promise of increasing retention of first-generation students. These College Success Award recipients worked together as a network to assist first-generation students, to learn from one another, and to serve as models for other colleges and universities. All winning schools had an undergraduate enrollment comprised of at least 30 percent first-generation students.

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. It has a century-old tradition of educating some of the most accomplished graduates in Idaho, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, and another 11 Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College is located on a beautiful campus in Caldwell, Idaho. Its distinctive PEAK curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field, enabling them to graduate with an academic major and three minors in four years. For more information on The College of Idaho, visit