Grace College and Seminary, Winona Lake, Ind., will use a $50,000 grant from Operation Diploma, an initiative of the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI) at Purdue University, to develop programs and policies designed to boost academic success of student service members and veterans on campus.
The grant is part of more than $1 million that MFRI awarded, through its Operation Diploma initiative to Indiana’s post-secondary institutions of higher education. The colleges and universities all proposed ways to enhance services at their campuses for the state’s student service members, veterans and their families.
The Grace College and Seminary award includes four initiatives. First, students in the M.Div. Chaplaincy Program will be advised by CH (CPT) Scott Shaffer, Army National Guard Chaplain with the 38th Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion (DHHB) in Indianapolis. This mentorship program will allow students to learn from Scott who is an experienced veteran and also a Grace staff member. Second, writing assistance in the Learning Center will be available to all military students to help them transition back into an educational environment. Third, a local/regional advisory council will be formed to help guide and direct the Grace College and Seminary VA Program. Fourth, the award will support the further development of a Grace military specific website that is set to launch in August and will assist prospective students, and provide information to veteran/military students in the community.
Currently at Grace College and Seminary, there are 24 military students that will return to campus this fall along with several incoming freshmen. These students all have access to the VA Student Resource Center and Lounge located on the Grace campus in the Gordon Recreation Center.
“We are excited to expand the VA Program here at Grace and look forward to the new developments and opportunities that this award will allow us to explore in helping veteran students transition to Grace College and Seminary,” Shaffer said.
Launched with a $5.8 million gift from Lilly Endowment Inc., Operation Diploma empowers Indiana’s post-secondary institutions and student veterans organizations to better serve student service members and veterans entering college for the first time, and those re-entering college after extended service or deployment.
Since 2009, Operation Diploma has awarded more than $2.4 million to Indiana colleges and universities, who have used the funds to produce more effective and supportive services or expand them for these students. This year, institutions submitted competitive proposals for grants of up $100,000.
“This year’s proposals demonstrate that we are entering a new phase of campus recognition and support,” said Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of MFRI. “Schools are building on their successes to reach for even higher goals and attracting the attention of their neighbor and peer institutions in the process.”
Grace College and Seminary is honored to be a part of this generous grant. In addition to Grace, MFRI funded grants at 21 other Indiana schools.