WINONA, Minn. – Winona State University is one of 10 Minnesota colleges to receive the “Young Student Parent Support Initiative Program Grant” from the Minnesota Department of Health.
The grant—which will provide close to $280,000 over the course of two years—aims to insure pregnant and parenting individuals 25 years of age and younger are able to accomplish their higher education/postsecondary education goals and maintain positive health and well-being for themselves and their children.
The grant will fund the hiring of six student employees, ideally parents themselves, who will provide support, resource referrals, healthcare information and lunch for student parents at WSU’s Winona and Rochester campuses, Winona High School, and Southeast Technical College.
The grant names Karen Johnson, WSU dean of students, as project director and Gar Kellom, director of Student Support Services, as co-director. The grant will function in close collaboration and share space with the Student Support Services program in Krueger Library.
“Essentially, our goals are student retention and graduation,” said Johnson. “We believe this can be accomplished best through the use of student-mentors who provide information on resources for student parents and host support groups.”
The WSU pilot program grew out of a group of student fathers who formed a group called Dedicated Academic Dads (DADs). The group met weekly with Kellom to give each other support and address issues that were hurdles to academic success and their ability to be good fathers. The grant will allow expansion of this program and respond to a rapidly increasing interest in student parent programming, said Kellom.
For more information, call the WSU Communications Office at 507-457-5024.