Spotlight on Innovation: How Delta State’s Okra Scholars Program Hopes to Provide Systematic Intervention for the Most At-Risk Students

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The US Department of Education has awarded multi-million dollar "First in the World" grants to 24 colleges and universities that are innovating to solve critical challenges with access, recruitment, retention, and student success. At AI, we have interviewed each of the recipients to learn more about the projects these institutions are pursuing, how their approaches are unique, and what other colleges and universities can learn from these new efforts.

by Lisa Cook, Academic Impressions

At Delta State University in Cleveland, MS, students who score between 17 to 21 on the ACT, are Pell-eligible, and are first-generation college students or residents of the Mississippi Delta face additional challenges to stay in college. These students accounted for more than half of DSU's Fall 2012 freshmen class. This range represents a student cohort for whom timely and consistent intervention can have the greatest impact.

To help those students finish their degree and do so in four to five years, DSU has established the Okra Scholars program, which will use a $1.6 million First in the World grant to establish a holistic, integrated student support approach for this targeted group of at-risk students. We reached out to project director Christy Riddle to learn more.

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