Cardinal First

Institution
State
Illinois
Academic Level
Baccalaureate
Issue Area
Retention
Key Personnel
Program Focus
Dual Degree/Dual Credit/Early College High School

Overview

The mission of Cardinal First is to 1) provide a supportive and welcoming community for first-generation college students and their families, 2) provide a campus culture that recognizes and celebrates first-generation student identity as an asset, and 3) provide a program that intentionally connects students to faculty, resources, information and experiences that promote academic and personal success from enrollment through graduation.

Program Description

Cardinal First prioritizes retention across all four years through cohort-based, interactive monthly workshops (offered at multiple times) for all first-gen students including Cardinal First Fridays (first-years), Sophomore Suppers, Penultimate (juniors), and Homestretch (seniors). Each one-hour workshop includes food and fellowship, first-gen faculty sharing, peer mentoring, and asset-based, student success content. (125 workshops offered annually). To incentivize participation, a meal is provided at every workshop and a renewable $1,000 scholarship is awarded to students meeting the participation requirements. Additionally, the program hosts a robust First-generation Celebration Week in November. Intrusive outreach is ongoing to all first-gen students and families (in Spanish as needed). All first-gen students are invited to participate and can join anytime throughout the year. Every participant is provided with a CF t-shirt, calendar/planner, and swag. Finally, 120+ first-gen faculty/staff have CF attire and first-gen office signs inviting first-gen students to connect.

Outcome

  • Average first-to-second year retention rate for all students who completed Cardinal First workshop series is 92% vs. 78% for all NC students and 61% for first-gen students not participating.
  • Average first-to-second year retention rate for Latino students in Cardinal First is 89% vs. 72% for all Latino students and 52% for Latino first-gen students not participating.
  • Average first-to-third year retention rate for all students in CF is 84% vs. 71% for all NC students and 53% for first-gen not participating.
  • Average first-to-third year retention rate for Latino Students in CF is 85% vs. 69% for all Latino students and 47% for Latino first-gen not participating.