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New WVU REACH Center receives Benedum funding to enhance student success opportunities

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The REACH program, launching in fall 2023, will connect students with WVU resources and provide individualized guidance to help them achieve their goals and further improve their student experience. (WVU Photo)

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West Virginia University will launch a new program this fall aimed at helping students facing academic, financial or personal barriers succeed in and out of the classroom.

The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation recently awarded the Respond, Engage and Climb Higher, or REACH, program $180,000 over two years to help recruit, retain and graduate students through a personalized, high-touch approach that offers academic wrap-around services while building a stronger sense of community through peer mentorships and engagement activities.

“We greatly appreciate the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation’s support as we stand up this new program,” Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education Evan Widders said. “With dedicated personnel working one-on-one with students to understand their individual needs, we hope to help them take the guesswork out of how to navigate the challenges and complexities of college life.”

The additional funding will support a full-time staff member, facilitate more campus collaborations to help students discover their strengths, and provide access to technology, computers and printing services that are not necessarily available and affordable to some students.  

The new REACH Center will be housed in the Student Success Center on the WVU Downtown Campus. To further improve the student experience, a new lounge will open this fall, offering a comfortable space to study and make connections with peers and staff.

REACH Center staff will uncover students’ personal goals and connect them to a range of WVU services, including peer mentorships, success coaching, tutoring, financial advising and assistance, strengths assessments, professional development enrichment, recreational activities, cultural events and more.

While open to all students, the Center will encourage Pell-eligible, first-generation and historically underrepresented undergraduates to sign up for the program and take advantage of this free service. These students and the others who sign up for REACH will receive important reminders at key times throughout the semester to help them stay on track.

Students interested in participating should complete this form.

“The Benedum Foundation is pleased to grant this funding to help historically marginalized students who often don’t have access to the resources needed or support systems in place to assist them in navigating the college experience,” Benedum Foundation Senior Program Officer Melanie Claxton said. “We hope the REACH Center helps these students adjust to the rigors of academic life, find a sense of community and, ultimately, stay the course toward graduation and earn degrees that lead to meaningful careers.”

The REACH Center is run by the Office of Student Success, which is part of the Center for Learning, Advising and Student Success, and is overseen by the Provost’s Office. Free academic support services are offered to all students, including workshops, tutoring, success coaching and first-generation initiatives.

These awards will be administered through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and oversees private donations on behalf of the University. 



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WVU Office of the Provost

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