Northwestern State University’s TRIO Student Support Services department received a Walmart Community Grant to enhance initiatives that assist first generation students. The grant in the amount of $3,350 will enable personnel to purchase school supplies, snacks and promotional items for students.
TRIO SSS is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and provides assistance to low-income, first-generation college students and/or students with disabilities with services to maximize students’ chances at success in college. Services include academic and career advising, peer tutoring, a resource library and other initiatives to help students progress and graduate.
Frances Welch, NSU’s TRIO SSS director, explained that because TRIO is funded by a federal grant, they follow a strict expenditure budget, so the staff has been proactive in seeking financial support from other sources, such as the Walmart Community Grant.
“We can pull from the grant to purchase food and other items for students, t-shirts, binders and notebooks, pens and promotional items,” Welch said.
Vashaun South, assistant TRIO director, applied for the Walmart Community Grant through the local store, #170 in Natchitoches, under the Education category, one of eight areas for which an organization can apply. The award will help fund TRIO workshops in financial literacy, study skills and stress management, as well as social events for new participants, welcome events and mentoring opportunities.
“The money we received from the grant allows us to further enhance these activities, pay for materials that highlight and bring awareness to our program and explore new opportunities that we may not have been able to afford prior,” South said. “We have been footing the bills for multiple items out of our pockets. These funds along with our new relationship with Walmart helps us support the community by enriching the people who are a part of it.”
Jen Foster, manager of Store #170 in Natchitoches, said the Community grant is one way Walmart plans to become more involved in the community. On top of the grant, Foster said she is increasing NSU-related items available in the store and seeking other ways to be visible in the community.