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Ferris Receives Grant to Fund Keys to Degrees Program for Single-Parent Students

Karen GreenBayFerris State University received a $64,775 grant from Endicott College (Mass.) and the Kellogg Foundation for its Single Parent Initiative to implement its new Keys to Degrees program for single students with children.

The grant will be used to initiate specific educational events and activities for the families of students while they pursue a college degree. Eligible Ferris students will be able to participate in local activities such as museum tours, attendance at Great Star Collaborative workshops and conferences, Prevention Network parenting seminars, and fun activities student parents may not otherwise be able to afford, such as bowling and swimming lessons. The goal is to strengthen retention and graduation rates for single-parent students.

“I think it’s definitely important. It’s definitely a need. It’s also known that our number of students with children has grown over the years,” said Karen GreenBay, coordinator of Ferris’ SCHOLAR Peer Mentoring Program and the Students with Children Program. “Their needs are much different from those of the traditional and international students. We definitely will be working to support this group of students to help them progress through college.”

GreenBay noted that single-parent students typically have additional expenses beyond those of most traditional college students. She also explained that while the challenges are greater for many single-parent students, the completion of a college degree is still possible. With this grant and other opportunities within SPI, GreenBay hopes that the network can channel students to various resources for help.

“There are events that they probably wouldn’t be able to afford on their own, even going to things they’ve never done before – like horseback riding. It is fun, it is learning and it is a family event,” GreenBay said.

The grant will be used during three semesters beginning with the Fall 2012 term. GreenBay said that those involved with SPI hope that the grant will enhance students’ families experience with the programs and activities offered as they pursue a college degree.

“We just want to monitor the students through the semester, monitor their grades and how their families are adjusting,” she said. “The main thing is education. Our next goal is to provide some enjoyment and entertainment for the families.”

Applications for Keys to Degrees will be available online later during the Spring 2012 Semester.

The program, which begins during the 2012-13 academic year, will be patterned after similar efforts at Endicott and Eastern Michigan University.