Giving Week Celebrates Access to Wes

July 20, 2016

Wesleyan's commitment to access, inclusion and diversity will be recognized on June 20 when President Michael Roth will be honored by A Better Chance Foundation, which for 51 years has been identifying and steering talented students of color into higher education. More ABC scholars have matriculated at Wesleyan than any other university except Harvard and Columbia.

The Benjamin E. Mays Award to Roth is named for the famed civil rights pioneer, and presented annually to a leader in education who individually and with their institution demonstrate a commitment to diversifying higher education.

Roth has made clear he is accepting the award on behalf of the university.

He told the Argus in April that "For years, Wesleyan has been committed to working with community-based organizations, who find great students who can't afford to pay the tuition, but who can knock the ball out of the park in areas of the curriculum they're interested in."

ABC and numerous programs help Wesleyan identify promising, underrepresented students. These programs are drivers of diversity, access and inclusion at Wesleyan, and will be celebrated during a special week of giving June 15-21. "Access2Wes" will focus on five such programs and partnerships; ABC, Posse, Questbridge, Prep for Prep, and the Freeman Asian Scholars program. The Wesleyan Fund has a goal of 1,000 donors for that week; donors will be able to choose an access program as a giving priority.

The highlight of the week will be a webinar June 17, featuring Roth and hosted by Alumni Association Chairman Megan Norris ’83 P’17 and CNN newswoman Maria Santana Guadalupe ’98. Roth will address issues of access and inclusion; register and submit questions for President Roth.

ABC's mission is to increase substantially the number of well-educated young people of color capable of assuming positions of responsibility and leadership in American society. The oldest national organization of its kind, ABC annually recruits, refers and supports about 500 scholars in grades 6-12 at more than 300 member schools in 27 states. Many of these scholars go on to elite universities. Since 1963, more than 250 ABC scholars have attended Wesleyan.

"Our work continues toward greater diversity and a more inclusive and equitable residential college experience," Roth said. "And I know that with the help of A Better Chance and other partner groups, we'll get closer to our goal every year."

A Better Chance may be the oldest organization Wesleyan has partnered with; the Posse Foundation is the newest. In September, the first "posse" of 10 U.S. military veterans will enroll as members of the Class of 2018. While Wesleyan has always welcomed veterans to campus, and some have enrolled under the Military Veterans Endowed Scholarship program, launched in 2008, the Posse plan provides a more formal way to identify and recruit vets. Wesleyan will augment GI Bill and other funds to meet the full need of the posse. Vassar College is the only other institution working with Posse's veterans program.

The first QuestBridge scholars graduated from Wesleyan in 2013. QuestBridge Match brings talented low-income and first-generation to college students to campus and since 2009, Wesleyan has enrolled between 12 and 16 scholars a year, as well as others who applied and enrolled through the regular process, typically another 20-25. The Class of 2018 includes 15 QuestBridge scholars.

"The longer I am in college, the luckier I feel to have access to such a wonderful education and the opportunities it brings with it," said Lindsey Proper '15, of Venice, Fla.

Prep for Prep identifies New York City's most promising students of color, provides placement at independent schools, and prepares them to attend prestigious colleges and universities. Wesleyan and Harvard have enrolled the most Prep for Prep alumni. There are 29 Prep for Prep students currently enrolled at Wesleyan; 162 have graduated. Eight more will join the class of 2018.

Since its founding in 1995, Wesleyan’s Freeman Asian Scholars Program has welcomed more than 350 students from 11 East Asian countries: China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Malaysia; Philippines; Singapore; Taiwan; Thailand and Vietnam. In the next academic year, 43 Freeman scholars will be on campus.

Yun-Hsuan "Leslie" Lai '14, of Taiwan, said: "To me, it's more than a dream come true… While I am saddened to be leaving this place, I am also looking forward to bringing the Freeman spirit to my next destination, as the other alumni do in different corners of the world."