GE Foundation Grants SHU $157,000 for Scholars Program

News Story: October 5, 2008

The GE Foundation Scholars program at Sacred Heart University has received two grants from the GE Foundation for the 2008-2009 academic year. Now in its 15th year, the program provides financial aid for qualified minority students with a demonstrated interest in math, science or related quantitative disciplines.

One grant, for $72,000, will be applied directly to student tuition expenses. Each of this year’s 18 recipients will receive a $2,000 grant per semester. The second grant, for $85,000, is used for retention services to ensure a successful participation in campus life and encourage students to “stretch” their academic and cultural experiences and goals.

According to Virginia Stephens, the SHU program director, this year’s cohort includes nine new students, to replace nine who graduated in May. Over its history, the program has benefited 166 students, many of whom have gone on to graduate study or successful careers. One pre-med student, for example, who earned his degree in May, is now studying at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

Support for this project is provided by the GE Foundation, a division of General Electric, to assist academically talented minority students. Those eligible to participate in the multi-faceted program include full-time undergraduate, minority students with a demonstrated financial need, a 3.0 grade point average, United States citizenship or resident alien status, and a proven interest in mathematics, science, information technology or one of the quantitative business disciplines, such as accounting, finance or economics.

"All of this came out of GE's interest in bridging the gap of minority students who were interested in entering these fields and have been traditionally under-represented. The feeling is that students definitely need the financial support, but there's other support that's needed in order for them to continue to be successful during their college career and even beyond. We have created a program that supports them socially, professionally and academically," Stephens said. "This includes a variety of workshops on leadership, careers, and public speaking, to name a few, and we go to arts events. For example, we have been to the opera and to Broadway," she said, adding that pre-med and other science students are expected to participate again this year in a special program at the Harvard School of Medicine.

Recipients are also required to perform 30 hours of community service each semester. "They're getting the benefit of this program, but they're also giving back to the Sacred Heart community and the expanded community," Stephens explained. She said the financial and other support has created "a very high retention rate. They stay in the program, graduate on time and in a couple of instances graduate early.”

The GE Foundation, the philanthropic organization of the General Electric Company, works to strengthen educational quality for disadvantaged youth globally; and supports GE employee and retiree giving and involvement in GE communities around the world. For information, visit www.gefoundation.com.