SUNY Orange Foundation Accepts $5,000 Grant to Provide Peer Mentors for Students Returning to College

PHOTO: Student studyingMIDDLETOWN, N.Y. -- The SUNY Orange Foundation was awarded a $5,000 grant from the Warwick Savings Foundation to initiate an innovative peer mentoring program that will assist students seeking to return to SUNY Orange after having been separated from the College due to academic reasons.

The grant will support the College’s “Students Helping Students Succeed” (HELP) program, a peer mentoring effort designed to provide intensive support services for students returning to the College after experiencing prior academic challenges. In addition to assisting HELP participants, the student mentors will learn to provide community service, which also enriches their experience at the College.

“Nationally and locally, peer mentoring has proven to be successful in increasing academic performance, campus participation and retention,” says Madeline Torres-Diaz, associate vice president for student engagement and completion. “In addition to needing to improve college readiness skills, many of these students have other high-risk factors that may inhibit their educational success.

“They may be low-income students or first-generation students. Family support for first generation college students is often lacking because the family does not understand the differences in coursework expectations between college and high school,” Torres-Diaz adds. “Also, more than half of our students report working at a job for more than 16 hours per week, which adds yet another barrier to their ability to be successful academically.

Students in the HELP program would “restart” their college career in the Fall semester, addressing their weak areas through trained peer intervention and assistance. The grant will fund stipends for the peer mentors, who will meet regularly with the students and provide assistance throughout the Fall and Spring semesters.

For more information, contact Torres-Diaz at (845) 341-4407.

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Mike Albright
Communications Officer
115 South Street
Middletown, NY 10940