George Mason University: How Summer Bridge Programs Support First-Generation Student Success

May 31, 2023

Authors: Amber Holton-Thomas, PhD and Graziella Pagliarulo McCarron, PhD (Co-Principal Investigators); Lex Lewis-Semien, Nakia Waters, Rommel Aguilar, Syed Mustafa Hassan, AJ Ryan, and Sumera Shaikh
Student life on the Fairfax Campus.  Photo by:  Ron Aira/Creative Services/George Mason University

In fall 2022, three ATI members each received a $7,250 honorarium to tackle research on key topics of academic equity with support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Gray Foundation.

Among them, George Mason University focused on summer bridge programs, which we know have a significant impact on a successful college transition and retention rates. These outcomes are especially pronounced for first-generation and low-income students. Through their study, George Mason explored the nexus between first-generation college student identity and summer bridge program experiences by examining its Student Transition Empowerment Program (STEP).

As a result, other colleges and universities can draw on this comprehensive “blueprint of possible pathways and structures for program-building” to enrich their own summer bridge programs for first-generation college students and other historically marginalized student populations.

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