For many high school graduates in our community, going to college is a big deal. A high percentage of students that Foundations of East Chicago (FEC) provides scholarships to, are first generation college students. Attending college is a big decision that comes with a lot of challenges, mentally, emotionally, and financially. This is amplified even more so if you are the first in your family to pursue a post-secondary degree.

            FEC strives to do everything it can to assist our East Chicago students not only get into college, but finish college. That is why FEC funded a program offered through Calumet College of St. Joseph that would help first year East Chicago students transition from high school to college. The First-Year Experience (FYE) at Calumet College of St. Joseph is a comprehensive program based on best practices that supports first-time college students in their transition from high school to college.  The primary goals of the program are to increase retention and academic success of first year students by helping them to enter their freshmen year on-track academically; providing exposure to college-level coursework and expectations; and helping students build community and make connections with peers, professors, and administrators, thereby creating a unique support system on campus.

            FEC understands that sometimes additional help is necessary to navigate the first years of higher education and supports programs such as this one for that same reason. Although the pandemic challenged the program, Calumet College adapted and conducted the program in hybrid format and within small groups for the safety of all the students. Some of the grant money was also used to purchase text books and help students lessen the financial burden. In the end, the program was a success and the students that fully participated came out ahead! Here are a few excerpts from testimonials of students who were impacted by this program:

            “First and foremost, I would like to thank the Foundations of East Chicago for choosing me for the scholarship award. It is highly appreciated especially for an older student like myself that has other responsibilities as well.” Armando Escamilla

            “I want to express my great gratitude toward the Foundations of East Chicago. Especially in times like these with the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant will provide help in pursuing my academic goals and furthering my academic progress as well. I came to Calumet College to be closer to home and family. It also has provided less out of pocket tuition for my family and I.” Julian Espino

                       “The Foundations of East Chicago is a staple to our community, for you have provided many grants and donations towards bettering the lives of the people within East Chicago. There are many opportunities within the community that have been made possible in part by your organization, and for that I will forever be grateful.” Horacio Salvador Gonzalez

            “With being a first-year college student, everything is new and different. With receiving this scholarship, it is exciting and has shown me that my hard work has not gone unnoticed. I am honored to become a part of something so recognizing and helpful to my college education. “Kayla Washington”