First Generation Initiative


banner Alisa Macksey, M.A.
Executive Director
First Generation Initiative

First Generation Initiative: An Equation for Success

The Need

Young people who are the first in their family to attend college can shatter an intergenerational cycle of poverty because when they obtain a degree, they enter jobs comparable to — and earn salaries comparable to — other entry-level professionals. But many students from low-income communities never make it to college.  And too many under-represented students are not graduating at the same rate as their classmates.

The Solution

The First Generation Initiative (FGI) of Saint Mary’s University will raise graduation rates for low-income students by transferring the focus from college access to college completion.

Why We Do It

Saint Mary’s University embraces our First Generation Initiative as a moral obligation.  In addition, it is:

  • an economic imperative — the nation needs more college graduates to fill increasingly complex professional jobs
  • a social imperative — today’s first-generation college students could be the ones who help solve chronic societal problems

Based on research, both access and support ensure students served through the University’s Lasallian, Catholic network succeed both academically and beyond the classroom, thanks to the First Generation Initiative. The cost of a scholarship, including support services, for one year, is approximately $46,000 per student.  There are currently 37 FGI Scholars at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. Additionally, through the establishment of an innovative Countdown to College academic boot camp, starting in 2010, Saint Mary’s has prepared over 175 high school students during the summers of their pre-collegiate academic years. This innovative program is preparing young students for success in high school as well as college.

Thanks to generous partners, the Initiative’s success has been realized by transformational philanthropy. In order to reach a funding goal of $15 Million by 2018, financially supporting student success remains a priority. The 2017-2018 financial need is to secure $300,000 by May 31st in order to provide gap funding necessary to support 37 current FGI Scholars.

For more information, contact Alisa Macksey, Executive Director, First Generation Initiative, at