Project Connect to smooth path to graduation

Photo: Student with long, blonde hair faces away from the camera, looking across a reflecting pond toward the grotto on Mount Mercy's campus.

Mount Mercy University has developed a new program to improve graduation rates for low-income, first generation students. The initiative, named Project Connect, will launch Fall 2017 thanks to a $310,000 grant from the Chicago-based Caerus Foundation.

Housed within the university’s Academic Center for Excellence — an office that provides academic support services to students — Project Connect will utilize a variety of different methods to help students succeed, including a summer bridge program, a strong mentoring model, social media and face-to-face learning and encouragement, as well as free books for completing program milestones.

“This robust and systemic approach to retention will provide Project Connect students with intentional opportunities to connect with University personnel, alumni, community leaders and fellow students who will provide coaching, mentoring, instruction and training through various outreach opportunities that may include career shadowing, volunteer opportunities, individual and group activities, and personalized guidance and support,” said Barb Miller, director of the Academic Center for Excellence. “Ultimately the participants will persist through graduation, gaining the leadership skills to mentor, tutor and guide incoming Project Connect students.”

Students participating in Project Connect will attend a three-week residential transition program that includes an introductory psychology course, awareness of campus resources, personal advising, and study sessions, and participate in weekly workshops, panel discussions, and mentoring programs to enhance academic success strategies, campus engagement, and leadership development.

“Project Connect has significant potential to make a positive and profound impact on the entire campus community,” Miller said. “It will provide additional resources to support and assist some of our most vulnerable students.”

Learn more about the services available to Mount Mercy students.

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