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KeyBank Foundation awards $1 million to support degree completion of CMSD graduates attending CSU

Grant will enhance programs aimed at retention, course completion and graduation rates

Cleveland State University will receive a $1 million grant from the KeyBank Foundation to fund the KeyBank Foundation Scholars Program, a series of initiatives designed to increase the rate of on-time completion of undergraduate programs at CSU by students who graduated from the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.

The support programs will begin in the 2016-2017 academic year and will apply to incoming freshmen and current students who came to CSU from CMSD. KeyBank Foundation Scholars will benefit from cohort and peer relationship building activities, extra engagement with academic advisors, guidance in securing on-campus employment and scholarship opportunities, as well as instructional support for coursework.

Approximately 150 CMSD graduates enroll at CSU as freshmen each year and program advisors will follow these students' progress. Measures will include retention after the freshman year, grade point average and graduation rates, with an aim toward raising performance in each category to levels equal to or above the general CSU student population.

"This philanthropic investment is very much in the spirit of the KeyBank Foundation's commitment to enhancing education in Northeast Ohio. We have worked closely with CSU to pinpoint the unique needs of Cleveland students, especially those who are first in their families to attend college, and we are enthusiastic about the opportunity to support their success," said Margot Copeland, CEO of the KeyBank Foundation.

Among the initiatives is a seven-week summer academic program that encourages incoming freshman students to transition successfully into a college setting by completing required courses and building peer relationships ahead of the traditional fall semester start date. Successful completion of the program results in students being eligible for a book scholarship that is renewable for up to four years. Another core component of the program is expansion of the number of Student Peer Instructors, an initiative that identifies current CSU students who complete courses with exceptional grades to become peer instructors. These individuals receive special training to be able to provide additional instructional support alongside faculty members.

The latest gift continues a partnership between the KeyBank Foundation and CSU in support of Cleveland students and it is also counted among the lead gifts for CSU's recently announced $100 million fundraising campaign.

"The KeyBank Foundation is allowing CSU to develop the tools needed to assure students, who come from CMSD schools, will be successful.  KeyBank's philanthropy continues to fuel a nationally unique partnership between CSU and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District," said CSU President Ronald M. Berkman.

In 2013 the Foundation awarded $1.3 million to CMSD and CSU that created a state of the art facility on the CSU campus that houses the 11th and 12th grades of the MC2STEM High School, one of the highest performing schools in the district. This grant also provides scholarship support for graduating students, early college credit for 11th and 12th graders and professional development opportunities for teachers.

"KeyBank Foundation’s support of our partnership with CSU has been instrumental in easing our students’ transition from high school to college,” said CMSD CEO Eric Gordon. “This gift makes it possible for CMSD students that attend CSU to have the support they need to successfully complete their college studies.”