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Governors State University Awarded New Kresge Grant to Expand Male Success Initiative

Contact: Keisha Dyson

Governors State University

Phone: (708) 534-4044



Governors State University Awarded New Kresge Grant to Expand Male Success Initiative

Governors State University in University Park, Illinois has received a second grant from The Kresge Foundation, one of the largest and most prestigious philanthropic organizations in the United States. First funded with a 3-year $875,000 grant in November of 2011 for their Dual Degree Program (DDP), GSU was awarded a second grant in December 2016.

Encouraged by the DDP’s success, Kresge awarded GSU $450,000 to disseminate the program nationally and to expand the Male Success Initiative (DDP-MSI). The DDP is a partnership with 17 Chicagoland community colleges that bridges the two-year degree to a four-year degree at GSU. It was founded in 2011. The MSI targets men of color. Its goal is to enroll, retain, and graduate men from minority groups. Both the DDP and MSI are hands-on in nature. They rely on outreach and mentoring to succeed.

Last week’s Great Lakes Regional Student Success Conference held in Detroit featured three panels presented by experts from Governors State, all speaking on the university’s multiple pathways to college completion that include the DDP, MSI, DDP-MSI, and the four-year structured undergraduate program initiated in 2014. Each presentation focused on an aspect of the university's role as a gateway to higher education for first-generation college students, particularly men of color.

Already a regional leader in student success and retention, GSU will use the $450,000 from Kresge to share their initiative and techniques with colleges and universities across the country. “Receiving this second grant from Kresge allows Governors State University to deepen the work of the Dual Degree Program and Male Success Initiative in our community.” President Maimon said. “The award also allows GSU to share these best practices in strength-based learning with the national higher education community. We are so honored to continue our partnership with Kresge in improving access to quality education.”

What Maimon means by “strength-based learning” is a paradigm shift in education. Instead of looking at deficits—what students don’t know—this approach zeroes in on helping students to recognize what they already know and then building on these strengths . “I’ll never forget,” Maimon said, “being told by a student, ‘This course is amazing, because it’s showing me that I know things.’ This was after one week in class.”

Maimon cites the work of Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup Education, and Shaun Harper, executive director of the Center for the Study of Race & Equity in Education, as great influencers on GSU’s DDP-MSI. Harper spoke at the university at the 2015 launch of the program, calling it “an opportunity to show young men of color their institution is interested and vested in their success.”

Rebecca Villarreal, a program officer for Kresge’s Education Program who was in attendance at the conference, praised GSU’s DDP in her remarks to attendees and cited it as a model with national potential due to its success rate and scalability. Speaking of the recent grant awarded to GSU, Villarreal said, “These are the kinds of programs we look for at Kresge, education initiatives with real world impact that can move outside their origin and work in other communities.”

The Kresge Foundation is a $3.6 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grantmaking and social investing in arts and culture, education, environment, health, human services, and community development in Detroit. In 2015, the Board of Trustees approved 370 grants totaling $125.2 million, and nine social investment commitments totaling $20.3 million. For more information, visit


Governors State University serves approximately 6000 undergraduate and graduate students with 64 degree and 24 certificate programs that prepare them for success in business, industry, healthcare, the arts, and education. As a state university, GSU is committed to providing high-quality, accessible, and responsible higher education opportunities. GSU is located 30 miles south of Chicago in University Park, IL and offers the most affordable undergraduate tuition and fees in the Chicagoland area. GSU is committed to embracing diversity and academic excellence.