Scholarships established through the challenge have helped diversify Colorado College’s student body by attracting high-need, first-generation students, broadening the college’s base from which it can draw talent and diversifying the student body. Once these students have decided to enroll, the college aims to prepare them for academic success and personal fulfillment.

That’s where the Bridge Scholars Program comes into play. Initially established in 1996 with a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to start a program for students interested in science and medicine, the program has expanded its services to students who are among the first in their families to attend college and to students who attended high schools that offered limited opportunities for advanced coursework.

Students are invited, but not required, to participate in the program. They arrive on campus two weeks before New Student Orientation to enroll in the Bridge Scholars Program, which supports their transition into college by teaching them how to recognize and respond successfully to the opportunities and demands of their new academic and social environment.

“The Bridge Program helps students navigate the unwritten landscape of a liberal arts environment,” said Emily Chan, associate dean of academic programs and strategic initiatives. “The two weeks they spend on campus before the beginning of the academic year introduces them to services designed to enhance their academic capital and to create a strong network of peers, faculty, and staff.”

Currently, 60 students are offered access to the program, which eight CC faculty members teach through four classes each summer. Some of the goals of the program, which can be accomplished with additional funding, include increasing the number of students who participate to 80, expanding the length of the program from two weeks to three weeks, enhancing faculty development by providing access to national conferences on inclusion, and establishing a mentor development program that comes with national certification to enhance peer-mentoring effectiveness.

“I was afraid I would have trouble making friends, but through this program I met other students who came from similar backgrounds,” said Audriana Alvarado ’18, who is a recipient of the Colorado College Community Scholarship. “The program was empowering to me and built my confidence about being in the CC environment. I think it truly helps students feel welcomed and supported.”