Wisconsin HOPE Lab: Announces $4 million in grants for college students

Contact: Sara Goldrick-Rab, (608) 265-2141

Innovative Laboratory Launches with Reception and Program Announcements

MADISON, WI— A $4 million grant program for Wisconsin college students was

among the announcements made at a reception for The Wisconsin HOPE Lab on

Monday, May 5. Educators, administrators, policymakers, civic leaders, students

and an interested public gathered at the Madison Public Library to celebrate the

Lab’s launch and get a first look at innovative research and collaborative programs

designed to help more students graduate from Wisconsin colleges and universities.

“The best weapon against fear is hope. We can and must do more to help these

students,” said Sara Goldrick-Rab, professor of Educational Policy Studies and

Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who founded and directs

Wisconsin HOPE Lab. “My team is intent on identifying problems, opportunities,

and solutions. We are actively developing and evaluating interventions. Most

importantly, we are committed to sharing our findings with families, policymakers

and professionals.”

Julie Underwood, dean of the University of Wisconsin School of Education, spoke

at the reception and emphasized the value to students of the Lab’s programs and

research. The Lab also premiered a video that will be used to promote its efforts.

The Wisconsin HOPE Lab is the only laboratory in the United States dedicated

to translational research for improving equitable outcomes in postsecondary

education. Studies have shown that even as attendance at Wisconsin’s colleges

and universities grows, many students—especially those from low- and moderate-
income homes—are not graduating. In a time of budget constraints and concerns

about the state of education, this leaves many Wisconsin families fearful for their


The Wisconsin HOPE Lab received a $2.5 million founding gift from the Great Lakes

Higher Education Guaranty Corporation (Great Lakes). “Our purpose in supporting

the Wisconsin HOPE Lab is to find new and effective ways to minimize barriers to

college completion, so more students reach their full potential,” said Richard George,

president and CEO of Great Lakes. “Think of it as leveling the playing field for at-risk


The Lab is housed within the UW-Madison School of Education and is overseen by

a board of directors from across Wisconsin. The Lab’s researchers have already

initiated many new partnerships, including with the Oneida Nation, the University of

Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin Colleges, the Boys and Girls

Club of Dane County, and Red Granite Correctional Facility. Their work is already

receiving national recognition: the Lab’s ongoing evaluation of Single Stop USA

was recently featured in the New York Times, Goldrick-Rab was invited to testify

before the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and in

April she received the Early Career Award from the American Educational Research


At the reception, Goldrick-Rab announced a National Science Foundation-backed

effort to examine how financial aid affects college choices, which will award up to

$4 million in grants to undergraduates at 11 Wisconsin colleges and universities.

The Lab is also launching a statewide undergraduate internship program, whose

first project will examine public perceptions of Wisconsin higher education, and

planning a workshop to bring together schools, community organizations and

philanthropists interested in better supporting students struggling with housing

and hunger in college.

For more information visit http://www.wihopelab.com.