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Brief History of First-Generation College, Low-Income, and Undocumented Student Initiatives

From the Beginning...

Excerpted from full Encylopedia Brunoniana entry on Financial Aid

Financial Aid in one form or another is almost as old as the University. Charles Thompson ‘1769 received fourteen pounds from a legacy left by the widow of John Hobbs of the Philadelphia Association for the education of pious youths for the ministry. In 1792 the Corporation authorized the president to employ one of the students to ring the bell and to allow him tuition and room rent. Students from South Carolina came to the College in the 1790s with the support of Reverend Richard Furman. In the 1830s the Northern Baptist Association provided scholarship aid for students. Sometimes help was forthcoming in more unusual ways. In the days of President Francis Wayland (1872-1855) a poor student had been living on crackers and water, and as a result, his class work began to suffer. Wayland, hearing of his situation, gave him money from his own purse and also allowed the student to take two quarts of milk a day from the president’s cow.

1988: Students on Financial Aid (SOFA) becomes a recognized student organization.

SOFA evolved from a discussion group which had been meeting regularly in the chaplain’s office. Goals included providing a personal support network, educating the campus about class differences, and improving University financial aid policies. SOFA was active through the 90s.

2002: University commits to need-blind admission for domestic applicants starting with the Class of 2007.


2004: Sidney E. Frank ‘42 Establishes Endowed Scholarship Fund

In September 2004, Sidney E. Frank, a member of the class of 1942, made a gift of $100 million to Brown University—the largest gift in the University’s history—to establish an endowed scholarship fund to provide financial assistance for the neediest undergraduate students at Brown University who could not otherwise afford the full cost of tuition and other costs of receiving an education at Brown. Recipients of the scholarships from this fund will be known as “Sidney E. Frank Scholars”.

2004: Tiffany Donnelly ‘06 and Dean Linda Dunleavy initiate First-Generation College student programming, including a panel of faculty and staff.

Panel includes SDWC director Gail Cohee and History professor Carolyn Dean. Similar panel is organized the following year.

2007: Students organize a First-Generation Mentoring Group with support from several administrators and faculty.

Julie Pridham ‘10, Ashley Anderson ‘10 and others, with support from Deans Linda Dunleavy and Kisa Takesue '88, establish the Mentoring Group. Dean Takesue initiated the inaugural first-gen programming during ADOCH (panel for students in April 2007), Orientation (panel for families and students in August 2007), and Parents Weekend (now called Family Weekend, event for families and students in October 2007).

July 2007: Maitrayee Bhattacharyya ‘91 appointed as the inaugural dean in the College to have responsibility for advising and supporting Sidney Frank Scholars.

2008: First-Generation College Student organization is recognized. Alumni donation and Campus Life support expand programming.

UCS recognized the First-Generation College Student organization from what was the “Mentoring Group.” Campus Life receives a donation from Tom Bale ‘63 on the occasion of his 65th reunion to support First-Generation College student-related programming. Rosario Navarro in the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life, begins working with the student leadership to coordinate efforts.

2009: Brown Admission partners with QuestBridge.

QuestBridge, a non-profit organization, seeks to match high-achieving, low-income high school students with top colleges and provide them with full, four-year scholarships.

2010: First-Generation College Students becomes an official Initiative.

With the expansion of staff in what is now called the BCSC, a portion of new staff person’s time is dedicated to supporting the Initiative with a student coordinator as part of some broader diversity-related work. By this point, the student group has gone defunct. In 2012, work with the Initiative becomes the responsibility of Joshua Segui.

2012: Students establish Brown for Financial Aid -- Advocating for Greater Access to a Brown Education.

The group identifies five goals, including implementing need-blind admission for all applicants, including international, transfer, and Resumed Undergraduate Education students; lowering the average loan burden; and allowing all students to re-apply for financial aid on an annual basis. See link to file at bottom of this page for more information.

Spring 2014: Group Independent Study on First-Generation College Students in the Ivy League.

Seven students in the Class of 2016 create an independent study with Professor Gregory Elliott on the First-Generation College student experience. Semester ends with presentation on implications for student support and recommendation for expansion of support at Brown. These recommendations, coupled with the BCSC strategic plan, result in the Initiative becoming the responsibility of Yolanda Rome (Office of the Dean of the College) and Ricky Gresh (Office of the Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services)

Summer 2014: Students receive Social Innovation Fellowship and establish 1vyG.

Jessica Brown ‘16, Stanley Stewart ‘16, and Manuel Contreras ‘16 receive a fellowship from the Swearer Center for Public Service to continue the work from the GISP and become the co-founders of 1vyG, the First-Generation, Inter-Ivy Network.

February 2015: 1vyG Conference, organized by students, is hosted at Brown University.

250 first-generation college students, 25 administrators, and 25 experts from the Ivy League and beyond gather on Brown’s campus for a weekend-long conference.

March/April 2015: Momentum from 1vyG inspires Brown student advocacy for expanded support.

The infrastructure established to organize the 1vyG conference, student energy, and institutional and national response result in Brown students, led by Viet Nguyen ‘17 and Emily Doglio ‘17, establishing First-Gens@Brown as a recognized student organization and authoring a proposal to establish a First-Gen center at Brown.

May 2015: UCS initiates conversation between Brown Corporation and students on the experience of low-income students.

Fall 2015: University working group recommends additional funding to support low-income students

Dean of the College Maud Mandel chairs a working group of students and staff to develop recommendations on closing the gap between Brown’s financial support of its highest-need students and the financial challenges of their lived experiences.

Fall 2015: University expands First-Gen Initiative into a Program and commits to establishing a Center.

Dean of the College Maud Mandel collaborates with First-Gen student leadership to develop Brown response to proposal to establish First-Gen center. With the support of first-gen Provost Richard Locke, funding is allocated to expand program and increase student staffing, including a part-time graduate student coordinator. Ricky Gresh and Yolanda Rome become acting co-directors.

Spring 2016: Expanded student staff hired.

Paid undergraduate student staff for the First-Generation College Student Program expands from 1 to 6. Maria Ortega, doctoral student in Sociology, is hired as the Graduate Student Coordinator.

February 2016: University releases Pathways to Diversity and Inclusion.

Pathways reinforces commitments to establish the First-Generation College Student Center and support for critical living and learning expenses for low-income students.

February 2016: University approves additional funding for Low-Income students. Creates new Assistant Dean for Financial Advising position.

Additional funding for health insurance scholarships, increased allowance for travel for aided international students, resources for food and housing costs during breaks in the academic year, doubling the Campus Life emergency fund. Funding was also allocated for a new position in the Office of the Dean of the College: Assistant Dean for Financial Advising to advise and support low-income students on financial issues that may intersect with academic, social, and personal issues.

April 2016: Students Successfully Advocate for Inclusion of “Low-Income Students” in the name of the center-to-be.

Summer 2016: Appointment of Vernicia Elie as the inaugural Assistant Dean of the College for Financial Advising.

September 2016: Brown to consider undocumented and DACA students as domestic applicants, thereby eligible for need-blind admission, and commits to additional support for current students.

The Undocumented and DACA Student Initiative is added as a program of the FLiCenter. Inaugural Faculty Fellow is selected, Kevin Escudero, and a search results in the hiring of the first Graduate Coordinator, David Liendo Uriona, by the end of the semester.

September 2016: First-Generation College and Low-Income Student Center officially opens at Brown!!!

November 2016: President Christina Paxson joins other university presidents in encouraging continuation of DACA.

April 2017: In response to student-led No Apologies Initiative, Brown waives application fee for low-income, undergraduates.

April 2017: Julio Reyes '12 is selected as the inaugural Program Director of the FLiCenter to officially begin June 2017.