Strategic Initiative Grants
One grant was funded for implementation during Phase One of the Strategic Plan; the continuation of The REAL NIU Experience, a summer camp which was established as a part of Project REAL. Project REAL was a five year Teacher Quality Enhancement Grant from the Department of Education.
A remarkably successful program that raises educational aspirations of inner city students at risk of failure, The REAL NIU Experience summer camp, was scheduled to end in 2008 unless funding could be found. Long-term funding is being sought, but success of the studentsâ NIU Club at Rockfordâs Jefferson High School in 2008-09 depended partly on the motivation provided by the prospect of camp at NIU during the summer of 2009. The program combines a college-oriented club at Jefferson with visits and summer camp at NIU.
For students with no family experience in higher education and little or no encouragement among peers, the REAL NIU camp provides personal experience on a college campus, determination to prepare for college, and understanding of how to succeed academically. The students, mostly minorities and low-income, explore careers in the STEM professions and other disciplines in activities delivered by five colleges, and attend intensive college preparatory courses as rising seniors. Rock Valley College has agreed to support the 2009 camp for rising sophomores in the Jefferson college club. NIU funding for juniors and seniors will demonstrate university commitment to external funders. This program strengthens NIUâs impact on the region by helping to build a well-educated workforce with at-risk and average students. The program also helps make NIU the institution of first choice for students.