The Center for Access, Success and Achievement knows that underrepresented students enrolled in the University on scholarships often lack funds to maximize the opportunities available to them outside of the classroom. The money needed to purchase required textbooks and school supplies, to take part in community service trips during semester breaks, to offset unpaid internships and research activities that enhance courses of study or career plans or simply to attend cultural activities that round out a student's college experience is just not there.  We also know that unforeseen emergencies can often derail students' ability to continue their education. 

Many of our students often have to work during the school year and in the summer at jobs that have little to do with their educational and career interests.  Since so many of their peers are working in career related jobs these students frequently find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes time to apply for jobs.  Even when they have an opportunity to participate in an activity such as a paid summer internship they cannot afford the extra commuting and housing costs, and thus have to turn down the opportunity.

Make a Difference

Faculty members often have opportunities for undergraduate research projects which are very important to help students develop their skills and gain the most out of their studies. These projects, which mostly take place during the summer, often require the students to live near campus, and this carries an extra expense. While a faculty member might be able to find as much as $2,000 for support, this does not cover those living expenses, let alone pay enough for the student to save toward the coming academic year. Consequently, students graduate from the University without key educational and career experiences, which puts them at a competitive disadvantage.

In addition to internships and research, Villanova students participate in service trips around the country and the world during semester breaks and in the summer. Typically students must pay their own way on these trips. Without question, college students gain valuable insights, experiences, and knowledge of the world and their part in it.  This experience, however, is beyond the reach of those students who cannot afford it.

Also, the modest financial position of these students means they are not able to buy extra supplies and books or attend off-campus cultural events when recommended, but not required, by a faculty member. This not only has the effect of limiting their Villanova experience, but also limiting their ability to explore and plan for a future after Villanova. This is a critical limiting factor for underrepresented students in their educational and career development. Providing students with a complete educational experience, rooted in the Augustinian values of truth, unity, and love, is an important part of Villanova's educational mission. Doing so ensures that students are able to mature physically, mentally, and emotionally in a nurturing but challenging atmosphere. They emerge with minds and hearts transformed, ready to face the challenges of a changing world.

The Make a Difference Fund was established to reduce the disparity that results from the disadvantages presented above. This fund will help those students covered by the mission of the Center for Access, Success and Achievement (defined as "underrepresented", Pell Grant eligible students and first generation college students). The goal of the fund is to provide our students with all of the opportunities their college peers experience without exclusions that are a result of financial hardship. Students will have the opportunity to submit a proposal for funding in the following areas: Academics (Study Abroad, Summer School courses , etc), Service Opportunities, Internship, Research, Professional Development (Conference, Workshop), Career Opportunities.