GVSU announces gift to transform lives of talented first-generation students

Grand Valley State University President Philomena V. Mantella announced a gift to create a scholarship program designed to give access and a full-ride scholarship to underserved students who participate in a unique summer program and national pitch event.  

A $2 million gift to the university by an anonymous national foundation will build a scholarship program around students identified through REP4.org, an initiative GVSU founded. The T4 Scholarship program will assist students who demonstrate passion for education, are the first in their family to go to college and have limited means. The donor was inspired by GVSU and its commitment through REP4 to identify promising students in a unique way.

The inaugural T4 Scholars have been chosen from among the 130 high school students who participated in the Midwest Learner Design Summit held at GVSU this past summer. At the summit, students from underserved communities were guided through an experience of building confidence, skills and networks of support. Empowered and challenged, they worked in teams to shape ideas for improving education in areas that present barriers for them and so many other learners. They offered exciting new directions around vital issues, including food insecurity, mental health, financial literacy and building community. They pitched them at the REP4 national convening held in August. 

Ten of the most dedicated students from REP4 will now receive the T4 Scholarship beginning in Fall semester 2022 at GVSU. All of their tuition and expenses will be covered for four years.   

“The generous gift provides an amazing opportunity, and it’s just the beginning,” said Mantella. “We can now invest in more students who have enormous potential but might otherwise be overlooked when applying to colleges. We are able to consider students holistically and do early work that helps them discover their strengths and what challenges them. We can provide new opportunities to support their growth. I am confident these diverse students will be among our next generation of leaders.” 

President Philomena V. Mantella
President Philomena V. Mantella.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts
Graphic of T4 Scholarship for leadership, resilience, community, equity.

The donor has elected to remain anonymous so others with a passion for lifting up first-generation college students, or those living in or right on the edge of poverty, can see their names on a T4 scholarship, which can transform students’ lives and those around them.

“We want others to join us,” he said. “There are so many gifted students being left behind, and I could have been one of them if someone had not seen my strengths and encouraged me to pursue my education.”  

The donor wants the focus to be on the power of education and smoothing the path for talented students. B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Development at GVSU, said the T4 Scholarship will be a game changer for recipients. 

“We understand the roadblocks that can prevent students from coming to college, particularly first-generation students,” said B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Development at GVSU. “Attracting students through the dynamic Learner Design Summit, coupled with the opportunity for the T4 scholarships, goes a long way to removing barriers to applying and getting into a college and then paying for it. These opportunities are setting the stage for lifelong success.”

The first cohort of T4 Scholars at Grand Valley will be announced next month.


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