The First2 Network is a grassroots alliance of passionate individuals who share a goal to improve the college enrollment rate and success of undergraduate STEM students in West Virginia, with emphasis on rural first-generation students. At the core of our shared vision to improve student STEM success is the assumption that the students themselves should be co-creators of the solutions.
In September 2018, First2 received a National Science Foundation (NSF) INCLUDES award of $7.15 million for the next five years to allow us to take the network statewide to engage West Virginia’s best innovative stakeholders in solving the STEM persistence problem.
Working groups, all of which include first generation college or high school students) will study, improve and replicate promising programs that impact STEM persistence. Specifically, First2 working groups will: 1) improve preparation for and transition to college; 2) replace ingrained institutional practices that stifle the development of STEM self-efficacy and 3) develop the FIRST Ambassador Program. As FIRST Ambassadors, undergraduate students explore the disconnect between home life and STEM study, and conduct outreach to hometown students and K-12 stakeholders, their collegiate institutions, and their state legislators to advocate for policy/practices that better support rural first-generation STEM student success.