Livescribe pens that will help students with disabilities take notes in the classroom, an on-campus closet with donated professional attire for students, and a peer mentoring program for nursing students at the Lake Campus are among the projects that have been approved in the current year for Students First Fund grants.
Launched in January 2019, the Students First Fund was created by the Wright State University Foundation Board of Trustees to be proactive in seeking and funding innovative ideas that enhance the Wright State student experience.
“We were absolutely thrilled with the initial response to the Students First Fund,” said Rebecca Cole, vice president for advancement and president of the Wright State University Foundation. “Our students, faculty and staff clearly embraced this opportunity and put a great deal of time, effort and thought into crafting their proposals.”
Cole said 39 grant applications requesting more than $211,000 in funding were received. Cole was especially pleased that a nearly equal number of students, faculty and staff applied for Students First Fund grants.
Members of the foundation’s grants committee thoroughly reviewed all applications, but they ultimately could only fund one-third of the projects.
“This was a highly competitive process,” said Dave Deptula, chair of the Students First Fund grants committee. “We had only $50,000 available for this first round of funding. We worked very hard to stretch the money as far as possible.”
The following 13 projects were approved for Students First Fund grants, with awards ranging from $1,000 to $6,000:
- Accessible Ink — The Office of Disability Services will purchase 20 Livescribe pens, protective cases, paper and ink to help students with disabilities take notes in the classroom. Along with promoting stronger study skills, these tools will be especially beneficial to students who struggle with traditional note taking.
- STEM for All — As part of a community outreach project, education students at the Wright State University–Lake Campus will develop a curriculum for a series of STEM Days for second grade students at Parkway Local Schools and St. Marys City Schools. With fewer than 10 percent of students in rural counties enrolled in a dedicated STEM class, this program will help promote STEM equity in lower-income communities.
- Raid-Our-Closet — An on-campus, donation-based closet, managed by Residence Life and Housing, will offer professional attire for Wright State students entering the workplace. By removing the monetary barriers associated with acquiring a professional wardrobe, the goal of Raid-Our-Closet is to empower students to secure and maintain employment.
- Seal the Deal — To help build community pride and tradition, a 48-inch bronze plaque of the Wright State University seal will be installed at Hamilton Hall plaza. Spearheaded by the ’67 Society of the Student Alumni Association, the goal is to unveil the plaque on October 1, which is Wright State University Founders Day.
- Raider Camp — The Office of Student Activities will develop an optional three-day, on-campus, outdoor adventure and college-prep experience for incoming first-year students. The program will help new students get to know their classmates, better prepare them for college life and encourage them to be engaged on campus throughout their Wright State experience.
- Decreasing the Runaround: Serving Students Where They Are — Registering for classes can be frustrating for students who do not attend Orientation. Academic Advising and Student Enrollment Services will install a computer near each of the academic advising units so students will have the option to register for courses before they leave campus. The goal of the project is to accelerate class enrollment, decrease student runaround and increase student satisfaction.
- Campus Safety Preparedness Training — The Red Cross Club will work with the Office of Emergency Management to increase awareness of where automated external defibrillator (AED) units and first aid kits are located across campus. In addition, 245 students will be trained in basic first aid, CPR and how to use an AED.
- Raiders Mentoring Young People — The Raiders Mentoring Young People program will give Wright State students the opportunity to develop their counseling skills by mentoring low-income, elementary school children. The Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement has a longstanding partnership with the Westwood PreK–6 Neighborhood School Center. Students from Westwood will be bused to campus so they can meet with and learn from their Wright State student mentors.
- The Wright Leader Podcast — Organizational leadership faculty will develop a series of podcasts to showcase real-world examples of leadership within the Wright State community and the Miami Valley. Each podcast will align with leadership concepts presented in organizational leadership’s community-based learning course. Students will be required to provide a written analysis of these podcasts as part of their coursework.
- The Gratitude Project — Led by Counseling and Wellness Services, an inclusive community art piece will be designed and painted by the campus community in the outdoor amphitheater. The project is intended to express gratitude for all identities represented on the Wright State campus, celebrate diversity and create a sense of belonging among students, faculty, staff and alumni in a communal space that can be freely enjoyed by all.
- Research Toolkit — Learning to do academic research is one of the biggest challenges that students face in college. The process of doing quality research is complex, and many students come to college having never written a research paper. In 2014, University Libraries created a series of eight workshops to help students learn how to do academic research. The Students First Fund grant will support the creation of two additional workshops that will be made available as online modules.
- Many Faces of Addiction — The Boonshoft School of Medicine will create a series of videos to educate college students and young adults about the opioid epidemic. The videos will be succinct to allow time for discussion with a moderator after each segment. Data will be collected through a questionnaire that asks participants questions before and after the training in order to better gauge their knowledge, opinions and stereotypes about addiction.
- Nursing Success Program — The Lake Campus will begin offering peer mentoring for students enrolled in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program. Juniors and seniors will mentor sophomore students and help them with stress management, social support, time management and organizational skills.
“While we received many outstanding applications for Students First funding, the grants committee felt that these 13 initiatives best represented the intention of the Students First Fund, which is to support projects that promote student success, community engagement and leadership development,” said Deptula.
Cole said the foundation board has committed to funding the Students First grants program for at least two more years.
“If their project was not selected for this first round of funding, we encourage them to apply again next year,” said Cole. “We’re also planning next year to post the grant application much earlier, so everyone will have more time to work on their proposals.”
Along with their grant, awardees will be given a plaque to display in their office or near the project location to signify that they received support from the Students First Fund.