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The DOE Science News Source is a Newswise initiative to promote research news from the Office of Science of the DOE to the public and news media.
  • 2011-01-04 15:00:00
  • Article ID: 572142

Citi Grant Helps University Students Succeed

  • Credit: South Dakota State University

    Citi Community Development supports an Academic Success Program at South Dakota State University that helps students succeed after they have been re-admitted to SDSU after suspension due to low academic achievement. Here Matt Larson, a tutor for the Wintrode Tutoring Program, helps a student with microbiology.

  • Credit: South Dakota State University News

    Ruth Christopherson, state director for Citi Community Development in South Dakota, said a new Citi-supported program at South Dakota State University is designed to help college students who are faltering due to low academic achievement.

  • Credit: South Dakota State University News

    Keith Corbett, dean of SDSU’s College of General Studies, said a new City-supported program at South Dakota State University helps students who are encountering academic difficulties master the additional skills needed to succeed.

Lance Nixon Lance.Nixon@sdstate.edu 605-688-5444

BROOKINGS, S.D. — A business giant that already supports efforts to get young people into college is taking the next step — helping to keep students in college once the ride gets bumpy.

Ruth Christopherson, state director for Citi Community Development in South Dakota, said that’s the idea behind a new program at South Dakota State University, the state’s largest institution of higher learning. Citi Community Development is part of the Citi family of businesses. Through employee volunteerism and funding from the Citi Foundation, it supports programs in many states to help young people prepare for college .

But the new Academic Success Program in SDSU’s College of General Studies goes a step further. It serves students who have been re-admitted to South Dakota State University following suspension due to low academic achievement. Program participants will receive one-on-one guidance from an Academic Success adviser, participate in workshops and programs, and have access to tutoring and a peer-mentoring program designed to fit their needs. Citi employees also serve as volunteers, providing financial education to help at-risk students learn life skills such as money management.

The goal ultimately is to help students obtain college degrees. The Citi Foundation gave a grant of $28,000 to support low- to moderate-income students in this program. SDSU’s College of General Studies supplied matching funds of $28,000 to significantly expand the SDSU program.

“What I love about investing in this group of individuals is that these are students who made the first year but are struggling,” Christopherson said. “They’re struggling not because they can’t mentally do college, but because they may not have the support at home, they may not have the financial education on how to budget their money to make it through school, they may not have good study habits. So they need the mentoring and the coaching and some extra help in that area.”

Keith Corbett, dean of SDSU’s College of General Studies, said although SDSU offers tutoring in 43 different areas, the new approach takes other factors into consideration when targeting student success. It increases resources available to students through workshops, peer mentoring and one-on-one meetings with advisers. This is the first program at South Dakota State University where peer mentoring has been used with this population of at-risk students. The workshops offered to students focus on managing money, replicating experiences of successful college students, encouraging health and wellness, and preparing for exams.

“What we find is that some students excelled in high school and get to college and aren’t prepared with the complete skill set necessary to be successful. Especially we’re gearing toward the moderate- to low-income student, how we can help that student,” Corbett said. “That’s been the wonderful thing about the Citi Foundation grant, that we can help these students and level the playing field for all students in the area of student success.”

The program is carried out through SDSU’s Wintrode Student Success Center. Depending on how well it succeeds, it could continue, perhaps with innovations driven by student needs.

“We’re looking at an early alert,” Corbett said. “Sometimes we notice that a student is having difficulty academically, but that’s not until the end of the semester when the grades are issued. So the early alert program helps identify that student and lets us assist that student before it’s too late.”

Christopherson said Citi Community Development is delighted with the direction of the program thus far.

“I don’t know of any other Citibank group in the country that’s financing and helping to fund educational success once students are already in college,” Christopherson said. “It’s keeping them in college, which I think is very important.”

Citi Foundation works to empower low‐ to moderate‐income individuals, families and communities in the areas where Citibank or other Citi companies have a presence. Citi Foundation focuses its resources on groups working with microfinance and microenterprise, small and growing businesses, education, financial education and asset building, and neighborhood revitalization in North America.

About South Dakota State University Founded in 1881, South Dakota State University is the state’s Morrill Act land-grant institution as well as its largest, most comprehensive school of higher education. SDSU confers degrees from seven different colleges representing more than 200 majors, minors and options. The institution also offers 23 master’s degree programs and 12 Ph.D. programs.

The work of the university is carried out on a residential campus in Brookings, at sites in Sioux Falls, Pierre and Rapid City, and through Cooperative Extension offices and Agricultural Experiment Station research sites across the state.

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Citi Grant Helps University Students Succeed

Citi Community Development, part of the Citi family of businesses, supports an innovative Academic Success Program at South Dakota State University. The program is designed to help students who have been re-admitted to SDSU following suspension due to low academic achievement.

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