Supporting First-Generation Students at Saint Mary’s

The First Generation Initiative (FGI) office was created to ensure academic success for first-generation college students, or those who are the first generation in their family to attend a postsecondary institution.

The First Generation Initiative provides academic, social, and cultural support to all first-generation college students in the undergraduate program. FGI has also prepared more than 200 high school students during the summers of their pre-collegiate academic years through the Countdown to College program.

FGI S.O.A.R. Campaign

Please join in the support of the FGI Support. Opportunity. Accountability. Responsibility. (S.O.A.R.) Campaign to provide full scholarships — and a whole range of support — for students with high need and high potential. The goal of the FGI program is to ensure first-generation students the opportunity to achieve their dreams of graduating from college. Your contribution to FGI S.O.A.R. Campaign makes a difference in the lives of FGI students, their families and communities. Thank you for your support!

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The Need

Young people who are the first generation 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

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, access and support ensure students served through the university’s Lasallian Catholic network succeed both academically and beyond the classroom. The cost of a scholarship for one year, including support services, is approximately $46,000 per student.  There are currently 30 FGI Scholars at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota. Additionally, through the innovative Countdown to College academic boot camp, started in 2010, Saint Mary’s has prepared over 200 high school students during the summers of their pre-collegiate academic years. This program is preparing young students for success in high school as well as college.

To be a part of this transformational philanthropy, contact Mary Worley, senior development director, at