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Worcester Polytechnic Institute Launches Great Minds Scholars Program

Scholarship program seeks to recruit, retain, and graduate high-achieving Pell-eligible students from Worcester Public Schools
Media Contact
August 28, 2018

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) today announced the Great Minds Scholars Program, a new scholarship opportunity for high-achieving, Pell-eligible students from low- to moderate-income families who graduate from the Worcester Public Schools. The program will be open to high school seniors applying to attend WPI beginning in fall 2019.

“WPI is excited to launch the Great Minds Scholars Program as part of our commitment to giving high achieving students of all backgrounds access to a world-class science and engineering education,” said Kristin Tichenor, Senior Vice President of Enrollment & Institutional Strategy. “Our new Great Minds Scholars will be part of a comprehensive program that includes research opportunities, mentoring, financial literacy workshops and networking with faculty, staff, and alumni.”

In addition to devoting $850,000 of existing financial resources to launch the program, WPI has developed the Great Minds Scholars Program to provide more holistic support structures for students, including mentoring, academic advising, financial literacy, and on-campus research opportunities. Supplemental programs will be offered to families to help them support their students’ success.

The Great Minds Scholarship is designed to help up to ten selected Pell-eligible students close any financial gap that may be left after other merit- and need-based scholarships and aid are awarded from state and federal sources, and ensures the student’s full tuition costs are covered. The scholarship also provides a housing stipend to encourage scholars to live on campus and to participate in the residential campus experience.

(The Pell grant program, launched by the federal government in the 1970s for students from low- to moderate-income families, originally covered about 75 percent of a student’s costs of attending a public four-year college or university. Today, those grants cover only about 30 percent.)

“So many of our alumni were first-generation students of modest financial means,” said Tichenor. “We want to continue making it possible for talented young people to achieve their dreams by coming to WPI,” said Tichenor.

Offering one of the nation’s preeminent university-based K-12 STEM outreach programs for elementary, middle, and high school students, WPI is regularly engaging local students and teachers in a wide range of programs. These outreach programs are specifically designed to get students excited about science and engineering pathways, expand knowledge, pursue their passions and position themselves for success in higher education and beyond.

“It’s important that our local students can build on those experiences and see themselves as future college students and alumni, able to create a better future for themselves, for their families and for the world,” said Tichenor.

The scholarships are open to first-year applicants from the seven Worcester Public high schools: Burncoat High School, Claremont Academy, Doherty Memorial High School, North High School, South High School, University Park Campus School, and Worcester Technical High School. Application information is available here

While the program is being launched in Worcester, WPI plans to expand it to other areas across the country as additional support is secured through philanthropy and fundraising, with an ultimate goal of providing scholarships for up to 50 students per year. Candidates for the Great Minds Scholarship applicants, as with all merit-based scholarship candidates at WPI, are evaluated based on academic performance in high school; recommendations from teachers and guidance counselors; and a demonstration of leadership, extracurricular involvement, and community service. The scholarships are renewable for four years, provided students maintain satisfactory academic progress.

The Great Minds Scholar Program supports WPI’s commitment to the American Talent Initiative (ATI), an alliance of universities and colleges that aims to expand the number of low- and moderate-income students at leading undergraduate institutions. Supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies and launched in December 2016, ATI brings together the nation’s top public and private universities to make higher education accessible to more students whose circumstances may prevent them from furthering their education. ATI was founded with a national goal of educating 50,000 additional high-achieving, lower-income students at the approximately 290 colleges and universities with the highest graduation rates. Based on recent federal data, there are approximately 493,000 lower-income students enrolled at these institutions; ATI’s goal is to increase and sustain the total number by 50,000 as of 2025.