ITTA BENA, MS – Students attending Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU) will benefit from a five-year $200,000 grant commitment from the Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF) to support college retention, persistence, and completion through the Improving Mississippi’s Persistence and Completion Together (IMPACT) initiative.

WHEF is an endowed Mississippi non-profit organization that has focused it efforts on promoting increased postsecondary access among underrepresented students for nearly 25 years, and most recently expanded its mission to also support increased credential completion within the state.

“The need to support students and to improve the rates of college completion among Mississippians has always existed. But, in light of COVID, the need has never been greater and more pressing,” said Jim McHale, WHEF President and CEO.

“According to Georgetown University, it is estimated that 65% of all jobs require some kind of postsecondary education. Currently, Mississippi sits at 45.2%. In order to improve the lives of Mississippians, to support Mississippi’s economic recovery, and to competitively position our state within a global economy, there is a critical need to not only have more students enroll in college, but to have them successfully complete their degree or credential.”

MVSU’s project, “The Road to Success: Retention, Persistence, Graduation (RPG)”, is designed to improve academic out-comes for a yearly minimum of 50 at-risk, particularly first-generation, low-income minority students. To this end, RPG will provide students with intensive, intrusive targeted services geared toward successful college completion.

Included among these services are regularly scheduled academic advising and counseling, face-to-face and online mandatory tutorial sessions and career counseling. The project has, at its core, coordination and integration of tutorial into MVSU’s First-and Second-Year Experience programs, as well as gateway courses.

The tutorial services are designed as an umbrella collective, which prevents the duplication of services, while maximizing student usage throughout the academic term rather than around test time. Students will participate in individualized and small group sessions that offer flexibility but require at least two (2) hours of weekly attendence.

“We are elated to partner with the Woodward Hines Education Foundation to enhance the support and resources available to MVSU students,” said Dr. Jerryl Briggs, Sr., MVSU President. “We know that a college degree is transformative not only for the lives of our students but their families as well. Though funding from the Woodward Hines Education Foundation, we will be able to assist students with educational barriers to ensure their academic and personal success. I am certain that Dr. (Kathie) Stromile Golden and her team will develop innovative and impactful programs that will resonate with our students.”

In addition to the grant funding, WHEF will underwrite biennial IMPACT convenings for all Mississippi public baccalaureate institutions, with the goal of creating a state-specific, facilitated community of practice for the exchange of findings, insights, and ideas; in addition, WHEF plans to provide coordinated access to high-quality professional development opportunities for institutional faculty and staff, innovations in data collection and usage, as well as platforms for peer learning.

“In addition to providing financial resources to individual schools, we hope to create a learning community where generative conversations about college success can happen,” said Shanell Watson, WHEF Program Officer and IMPACT Project Lead. “Although each Mississippi institution has its own unique challenges and opportunities, they are also working to solve the same problems. Our goal with the IMPACT initiative is to provide a place where our universities can share with and learn from one another, for the betterment of all our students.”


About Mississippi Valley State University (MVSU)

Mississippi Valley State University, as a Carnegie Classified Master’s University, provides comprehensive undergraduate and graduate programs in education, the arts and sciences, and professional studies. The University is driven by its commitment to excellence in teaching, learning, service, and research~a commitment resulting in a learner~centered environment that prepares critical thinkers, exceptional communicators, and service-oriented, engaged, and productive citizens. MVSU is fundamentally committed to positively impacting the quality of life and creating educational opportunities for the Mississippi Delta and beyond. For more information, visit

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