WARWICK, R.I. — U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, and U.S. Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced a $1.1 million U.S. Department of Education grant for Rhode Island College (RIC) to provide opportunities for disadvantaged students to pursue doctoral studies. The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement grant will be distributed over a five-year period to help low-income, first-generation college students prepare for graduate school.
The McNair program is one of eight federal TRIO programs that are designed to provide services to individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds to help them progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to postbaccalaureate studies. Students in the McNair program are the first in their families to complete a four-year degree and must meet federal income guidelines or be underrepresented in their field of study. McNair students receive mentoring, academic advising and tutoring, and stipends to conduct research on the graduate level.
“Hats off to Rhode Island College. This is an extremely competitive award and great recognition for the college. Thanks to this federal funding, talented RIC students from diverse backgrounds with strong academic potential will have an opportunity to advance their education and open new doors and opportunities,” said Senator Reed. “It will help Rhode Island broaden the pipeline for developing the next generation of researchers and innovators and will give our talented students the opportunity to achieve at the highest academic levels. Our state stands to benefit for years to come from this federal investment.”
“Rhode Island College has blazed a trail to the middle class for generations of Rhode Islanders who were the first in their family to go to college,” said Senator Whitehouse. “This federal award will help more first-generation and low-income college students pursue their dreams even further with an advanced degree.”
“As a RIC alum, I’m thrilled this $1.1 million grant will provide students from all backgrounds with preparation and guidance before they move on to earn an advanced degree,” said Congressman Langevin. “The students who will benefit from this program are bright, motivated, and hard-working, and they deserve the chance to accomplish their academic goals. I’m proud that the McNair grant will help make this possible.”
“Higher education should be open and accessible to every qualified Rhode Islander,” said Congressman Cicilline. “That requires supporting high-achieving students from disadvantaged backgrounds who want to pursue doctoral studies, and I am glad that this grant will help Rhode Island College offer more opportunities to Rhode Islanders who seek to achieve these advanced degrees. When our young people are allowed to thrive at the highest levels of academics and scholarship, our state and our economy benefit.”
“The Ronald E. McNair grant will help drive efforts to expand undergraduate research at Rhode Island College,” said RIC President Frank D. Sánchez. “There is compelling evidence that opportunities like these have a direct impact on student success, in terms of retention and graduation rates. The grant will also support RIC’s expansion of experiential learning opportunities, with a particular focus on underrepresented groups of students as outlined by federal guidelines. In the spirit of McNair’s quest for excellence, this funding will be used by our exceptional faculty to provide mentoring, support and advising services to our talented students.”
Students enrolled in RIC’s McNair program will prepare for doctoral studies by participating in research and scholarly activities while working closely with a faculty mentor in their research area. Grant recipients must enroll in a two-semester course sequence to learn about the research and publication process and gain exposure to the academic and social experience of graduate education.
The grant is named after the late Ron McNair, a physicist and the second African-American to fly in space, who was one of seven crew members killed when the Challenger space shuttle exploded shortly after takeoff in 1986.
Nationally, 161 McNair Scholars Program proposals were funded in 2017 at colleges and universities around the country.