Who We Are

Working together to transform the college experience for first-generation students

With campus-level programs at 16 colleges and universities, the Kessler Scholars Program is designed to provide holistic support for students from lower-income households who are the first in their family to pursue a four-year college degree. By combining financial resources with cohort-based engagement and individualized guidance, the Kessler Scholars Program provides first-generation college students with the knowledge and skills that they need to succeed and to thrive. The students and staff who are a part of Kessler Scholars Programs also are embedded in and supported by a nationwide network, the Kessler Scholars Collaborative. The Collaborative network allows program leaders to meet regularly to share resources and best practices. We also provide students with opportunities to connect with other first-generation scholars across the country.

students walking
scholars on stairs

Our Vision

To develop and connect a diverse community of first-generation scholars who positively lead and shape the world around them.

Our Mission

Our mission is to engage and empower a national network of colleges and universities that collectively closes equity gaps and provides transformative support to first-generation students across the undergraduate journey and beyond.

Collaborative Cornerstones

Four cornerstones guide our collective work with Kessler Scholar campus partners, students, and alumni. Together, Kessler Scholars campus partners work toward a set of shared goals and objectives, promote learning across the network, and come together to create programming and activities that enhance the Kessler Scholars student experience.


What We Believe

Our passion for improving the college experience and outcomes for first-generation students drives us to work with urgency, integrity, and accountability. Our work is guided by these core values.

Put first-gen students first

First-generation students transform the campuses they are a part of, and we are unwavering in our efforts to transform their lives. We believe all students should feel like they belong. Our work centers on making sure first-generation students know they are welcomed, valued, and supported.

Promote learning, curiosity, and growth

We are committed to learning from each other and seek to continually improve and innovate. We don’t shy away from exploring, and we aren’t afraid of making mistakes. We learn from each other and from our challenges and successes.

Seek true collaboration

We believe in the power of working together and that we can achieve more collectively than individually. That’s why we are committed to embracing diverse perspectives, investing in each other’s growth, and fostering open, honest, and meaningful relationships.

Foster equity and inclusion

We are dedicated to advancing more just and equitable college campuses where all students are valued and can thrive. We actively work to close equity gaps and strive to create programs where every student feels empowered and included. As importantly, we continually reflect on our practices and work to repair harm when we make mistakes.