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CSU’s Sullivan Deckard Scholars Program Honored with “Models of Excellence” Award

Cleveland State University is one of nine colleges and universities nationwide being honored by University Business magazine with its 2016 Models of Excellence award. Sponsored by CASHNet, the Models of Excellence program highlights innovative approaches to encouraging and nurturing student success on campus.

CSU was recognized for its Sullivan-Deckard Scholars Opportunity Program which provides financial support, mentoring, and engaged learning experiences specifically targeted for students aging out of foster care to assist them in succeeding at the university level.

“CSU recognizes different student populations require different types of support,” says University Business senior editor Tim Goral. “Foster children often need a combination of academic, social and financial aid to succeed in college; Cleveland State is stepping up to give this population a fair chance at higher education and the opportunity it brings.”

"Foster children are one of the more at-risk populations in society and one of the least likely groups to earn a college degree," notes Charleyse Pratt, assistant vice president for inclusion and multicultural engagement at CSU. "This initiative is one of the first of its kind to provide a holistic system of support for foster children, financial, educational and cultural, to assist them in transitioning out of the system and into an institution of higher learning with the ultimate goal of completing their degree.”

The Sullivan-Deckard program identifies students while still in high school and provides support through the college application process. Once admitted and enrolled, students receive free, year-round housing and money for tuition and books, work-study employment, academic support including tutoring, coaching, and advising, and both professional mentoring and peer support.

“You can’t just drop them in the deep end of the pool and expect everybody to swim,” Pratt says. “There are some nuances associated with this population that if we are more keenly aware we can modify our intervention or our support.”

The Sullivan-Deckard Scholars Opportunity Program at CSU was created in 2015 thanks to a $2.3 million combined gift from Frank and Barbara Sullivan and Jenniffer and Daryl Deckard. The program will welcome its second cohort of students in the fall of 2016.

In addition to Cleveland State University, 2016 Models of Excellence honorees include: California State University, San Bernardino; Christopher Newport University; Franklin University; Indiana University Southeast; LDS Business College; Middle Tennessee State University; University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

“These honorees demonstrate how inclusivity and personalized attention for all students benefits higher education holistically,” says Edward Worrilow, head of marketing and communications at CASHNet. “We are pleased to recognize their efforts alongside University Business.”