CSU advances in national effort aimed at first-generation student success

College students

Colorado State University has been chosen to engage in the next phase of a multi-year initiative designed to advance first-generation student success.

The Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA) and The Suder Foundation, announced CSU’s advancement to the First Scholars phase of the First Scholars Network this week.

CSU was chosen based on its demonstrated commitment to advancing the outcomes of first-generation students through improving both first-generation student success initiatives and institution-wide approaches.

“As a first-generation student myself, I am incredibly proud that CSU has been selected as a First Scholars institution,” said Blanche Hughes, vice president for student affairs. “This achievement builds upon our strong foundation as the first university in the country to offer a first-generation scholarship. As we focus on closing the opportunity gap for first-gen students, I look forward to enhanced coordination and collaboration across student and academic affairs.”

About the network

Powered by the Center for First-generation Student Success, the First Scholars Network is a four-phase approach that allows institutions of higher education to advance outcomes through establishing communities of practice, gaining knowledge of resources and establishing peer networks. Aroung 275 institutions of higher education have entered the Network and progressed through the second phase, First-gen Forward.

CSU has been selected to join a third phase, First Scholars, that signals incredible dedication to serving first-generation students. The Center recently announced a commitment to serving over 700 institutions through the Network in the next five years.

“After seeing such exciting Network progress and leadership, the Center is pleased to welcome Colorado State University as a new First Scholars institution,” said Sarah Whitley, vice president with the Center for First-generation Student Success. “Through every step, it was evident that CSU is not only invested in serving first-generation students but is prepared to make a long-term commitment to radically change the way first-generation students are served and to employ strategies for sustainability and scale that result in intentional impact.”

“CSU has the ingredients to be the national leader in first-generation student success, a vision I know President Amy Parsons shares,” said Ryan Barone, assistant vice president for student success. “Being selected as a First Scholars institution allows us to engage in a learning community with peer institutions building on our institutional strong foundation to help predict our success.”

Ecosystem of resources

Through a phased approach designed to scaffold learning and achievement of institutions over time, First Scholars provides institutions with the opportunity to engage in student-centered, systemic transformation through an ecosystem of resources. Benefits of participation in First Scholars include:

  • An evidence-based and research-supported framework of actionable priorities supported through monthly workshops
  • Diagnostic tools providing critical institutional insight
  • Robust data sharing as part of the national Postsecondary Data Partnership
  • Guidance of expert coaches along each step of the experience
  • Customized solutions and continuous improvement plans personalized to allow each institution to meet its first-generation student success goals

Upon meeting milestones in the First Scholars phase, institutions are eligible to earn the Champion Campus designation.

“First Scholars provides a unique balance of bringing first-generation student initiative scaling into focus while drilling down into how CSU recalibrates institutional systems to elevate potential and advance outcomes for first-generation students, positioning them to be a real leader in first-generation student success,” said Kevin Kruger, president and CEO of NASPA. “I look forward to seeing their success as they drive national change and advance success outcomes for first-generation students.”

Center for First-Generation Student Success

The Center is transforming higher education to drive first-generation student success effectively and equitably across education, career and life. It provides data, training and expertise for a growing network of colleges and universities around the country to scale and sustain the important work of serving first-generation students.


NASPA is a member-centered association supporting a diverse and passionate network of 15,000 professionals and 1,200 institutions across the globe. It is the professional home for the field of student affairs and is dedicated to cultivating student success in collaboration with the missions of its institutional members – a network of colleges and universities representing every sector of higher education.