Building a Community of Support Around First Generation Students

During the past few years, I’ve been party to two diverging conversations in higher ed.

On the one hand, we’re all painfully aware of budget cuts precipitated by severe cuts in state funding and of cuts in financial aid.

On the other hand, I hear renewed commitments to making college accessible to more and more students as a matter of social justice and as a means of social and economic mobility in a changing economy.

At the convergence of these conversations are many ideas about First Generation Students and their needs, and because funding is so limited, these conversations often turn toward relatively expedient and low-cost ways to “fix”  the lower rates of enrollment and — more importantly — lower success and completion rates.

There has been too little time to listen to First Generation Students themselves.

This is why I’m very excited today to be launching (with an amazing team, most of whom are fellow First Generation Students) a crowd funding campaign to create and gather digital stories of Being First.

We want to create a mobile storytelling lab (no students will have to have their own equipment, student organizations won’t have to pay for project costs) to do three-day digital storytelling workshops where they’ll come to more deeply know their stories and will be afforded the power experience of being heard.

We’ll support showing of these stories on their campuses, and we’ll encourage them to contribute their stories to a digital archive, where others can and will learn from them.

We would love for this project to be built upon a community of supporters, to know that we’re doing this work with the support of $5 and $50 and perhaps even $500 donations from people who are committed to this bold yet basic idea:

That First Generation students have a great deal to say about their own experiences of navigating the explicit and the hidden rules of college, and that we will all learn a great deal from their Stories.

Please join us with whatever contribution you might give, and please share this opportunity widely.

Thanks so much.

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