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Creating Community, Opportunity, and a New Generation of Student Leaders

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Being the first in your family to pursue a four-year college degree is a point of pride, but it can also be extremely challenging for even the brightest, most resilient students.

The Kessler Scholars Collaborative seeks to change that experience and improve success outcomes for first-generation, limited-income students across a broad network of colleges and universities.

Established in 2020 by the Judy and Fred Wilpon Family Foundation, the Kessler Scholars Collaborative includes six inaugural campus partners: Cornell University, Johns Hopkins University, Queens College, St. Francis College, Syracuse University, and the University of Michigan, where the first Kessler Scholars Program was established. With the support of the American Talent Initiative and Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Collaborative is proud to welcome 10 new partner institutions as of April 2022.

At the campus level, Kessler Scholars Programs provide four years of comprehensive, cohort-based support to help first-generation students navigate higher education. As part of the larger Kessler Scholars Collaborative, these programs are building a powerful community of first-generation student leaders and encouraging campuses across the country to rethink how they can best support lower-income students from admission through graduation.

Collaborative Cornerstones

More about our approach

Support first-generation student success

Assist students in their transition to college and persistence to graduation through a four-year comprehensive academic and social support system.

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Build campus-based program capacity

Connect higher education staff and leadership across diverse institutions to strengthen individual and collective capacity to effectively support first-generation students.

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Share best practices

Integrate scholarly research, evaluation, and evidence-informed practices to advance first-generation student success.

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Facilitate authentic engagement

Foster meaningful connections among Kessler Scholars, alumni, and program staff across institutional boundaries.

Featured Partner Institutions

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Cornell University

Cornell welcomed its first cohort in Fall 2019. Scholars at Cornell receive personalized, peer mentoring support, one-on-one advising, and summer funding to support experiential learning.

Johns Hopkins
Johns Hopkins University

Launched in Fall 2020, the Kessler Scholars Program at Johns Hopkins University is specifically focused on supporting students in the social sciences and humanities.

Queens College

Queens College joined the Collaborative in Fall 2020. Students receive financial support for internships or study abroad opportunities and take part in discussion-based cohort classes.

Connect with the Collaborative

Interested in learning more about the Kessler Scholars Collaborative? Reach out to us here to learn more about our work.