DENTON – The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) recently awarded Texas Woman’s University a $200,000 grant for its G-Force student-mentorship program, designed to increase enrollment of first-generation college students in Texas.
Grant funds will go to TWU students in the form of wages earned for working in TWU Go Centers in 16 area high schools in 11 school districts. Each Go Center is a physical space in the selected high school that offers admission and financial aid-application assistance and other higher education-related information to potential first-generation college students and their parents, a TWU press release stated.
“We are spreading the word about higher education, and that’s so important,” stated Becky Rodriguez, executive director of TWU’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Outreach, in the release
The two-year grant allows G-Force members who qualify for state work-study – where students are paid for their on-campus or select off-campus jobs with state funds as part of their financial aid – to serve as TWU student workers and staff the centers and provide mentorship and workshops. The college students, who work up to 20 hours a week, earn $10 per hour.
Susana Mercado, TWU G-Force president and a math major from Denton, said the grant allows her to reach her educational goals and develop professional skills.
“It will also allow me to continue to give back to my community by working with students in helping them achieve their educational goals,” Mercado stated in the release.
Nearly 45,000 students and their parents have received TWU G-Force’s assistance since the program began in 2007. About 80 percent of those served in any given year include potential first-generation college students and their parents, while the rest are mainly high school students from economically disadvantaged households or TWU students.
TWU G-Force mentored more than 4,000 students in 2014-15, Rodriguez said.
TWU G-Force has 45 members and the program is one of the largest in Texas. TWU is a model for G-Force programs in the state, and its mentoring efforts even received praise from Columbia University in New York.
Most college students come into the TWU program as sophomores and stay two years or more, and many students maintain a 3.0 GPA or better. They receive extensive training throughout the program.
“They have to be role models for the students that they meet in the high schools …,” Rodriguez stated. “It is peer-to-peer mentoring.”
To date, TWU G-Force has received more than $1.6 million for scholarships and work study.
More information about TWU’s G-Force and its Go Centers is available at http://www.twu.edu/diversity-inclusion-outreach/go-centers.asp.