Wilkes-Barre, Pa.—King’s College just received $26,555 from the Willary Foundation for the new “Monarchs on a Mission” program, which offers workshops and other services aimed at improving retention and graduation rates for students who are the first in their family to pursue a four-year degree.

The program will operate out of the College’s Office of KC Pathways and benefit approximately 40 students per academic year.

“Research shows that first-generation students struggle more often with seeking help, overcoming imposter syndrome, and navigating college life, which causes them to graduate at lower rates than their peers,” said Kelly M. Lettieri, director of the Office of KC Pathways. “We’re confident that a dedicated program aimed at helping these students develop resiliency, social skills, and emotional intelligence will give them the best chance to succeed both here and in their future careers.”

The Willary Foundation is a family-operated organization dedicated to supporting innovative projects that benefit communities in Northeastern Pennsylvania. This grant award makes it possible for the College to launch the new initiative for the Spring 2024 semester with a kick-off event planned for mid-February.

During the fall and spring semesters, participants will meet for seven 90-minute modules that cover a wide range of topics including cultural awareness, relationship management, effective decision making, and career preparation. Participants will also connect with alumni, staff, faculty, and student mentors, many of whom are first-generation students themselves.

This initiative builds on the College’s ongoing efforts to nurture an optimal environment for first-generation students. Last year, the College launched its Luzerne and Lackawanna Education Opportunity (LLEO) Program, a financial aid initiative that covers tuition and fee costs for local, first-time students with families that earn less than $50,000 per year. This program has already supported more than 80 students to date.

The College’s support of first-generation students dates to its founding mission of educating the children of coal miners and mill workers from Northeastern Pennsylvania. Today, over 37 percent of its student population are first-generation students.

In 2022, King’s College was designated a First-Gen Forward™ Institution, an initiative of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), which recognizes institutions that demonstrate a commitment to improving the experiences and outcomes for first-generation college students.