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Federal grant to aid SUNY Oswego student equity, success efforts

By Eric Reinahrdt (


SUNY Oswego will use a five-year, $1.9 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for a project that will support a “range of initiatives building student equity and success.” PHOTO CREDIT: SUNY OSWEGO

OSWEGO, N.Y. — SUNY Oswego has plans for a “range of initiatives building student equity and success” after the federal government awarded the university a five-year, $1.9 million grant.

The U.S. Department of Education is providing the nearly $2 million Title III grant, SUNY Oswego announced in a Feb. 28 news release.

The project is titled “Student Success Equity Project: Advancing Equity Through Intentional Peer-to-Peer Supports and Inclusive Pedagogies.” It was funded under the Title III Strengthening Institutions program, with funding running from 2023-2028, SUNY Oswego said.

“We are thrilled to receive the support from the U.S. Department of Education to improve our programs and we see it as an important investment and vote of confidence in the direction that SUNY Oswego is moving,” Kristin Croyle, principal investigator and dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said in the school’s release.

The Student Success Equity Project is designed to increase the capacity of SUNY Oswego to “engage, retain and graduate all students” while addressing any possible gaps in course performance, retention, and graduation rates. 

Scott Furlong, SUNY Oswego provost and VP for academic affairs, is the project’s co-principal investigator. Michelle Bandla, assistant VP for student support, serves as project coordinator.

One key feature of the project involves establishing peer-to-peer tutoring systems, with mathematics providing an early example, SUNY Oswego noted.

“We have students who serve as embedded tutors both in classes and outside of classes,” Croyle said.

“Making these connections with the classes and the student tutors is very beneficial,” Furlong said in the release “It’s important to see that other students like them have made it and figured things out.”

Another key initiative under the grant is developing financial materials that can help students in both short- and long-term ways, the school noted.

“One thing that came through in the student focus groups was a desire for students to better understand their financial options, and what resources they can access, to support their decision-making,” Croyle said. “The Office of Financial Aid is developing financial literacy materials to address some of the uncertainties many students face.”

In addition, the university will develop a program with student financial-literacy mentors, similar to the mathematics tutoring model, sometimes paired with first-year classes to ensure it reaches students “early in their experiences.”

The grant also supports specific groups of faculty working with the SUNY Oswego’s Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching to redesign courses and develop more inclusive lessons and processes that will “enhance a sense of student belonging and course completion,” the university said.

Funding origin

SUNY Oswego’s participation in an Equity Success Student Intensive study sponsored by AASCU — the American Association of State Colleges and Universities — is described as the “foundation for the grant project.”

That project explored data and created conversations dedicated to addressing equity gaps, often focusing on challenges to underrepresented, first-generation and financially challenged students, SUNY Oswego explained.

“For that project, we examined data, hosted student focus groups, talked to our faculty and staff, and studied what other institutions do,” Croyle said.

Furlong noted that this initiative found that the biggest challenges included financial literacy and capacity, “enhancing a sense of belonging,” and improving credit completion.

“We were beginning to think about what to do in these spaces when the [U.S.] Department of Education put out a call on these grants,” Furlong said. “It was great timing, as we were able to gather our data and ideas to develop a successful proposal.”

“We made an intensive and purposeful effort to understand student experiences and the barriers they faced, and that is what went into the proposal,” Croyle said.

The grant is intended to create permanent institutional change beyond its five-year cycle.

“Receiving the grant allowed us to be more ambitious in what we can accomplish and allowed us to ramp up our efforts right away,” said Furlong.   

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