Scholar FAQs

WHAT CAN SCHOLARS APPLY FOR?

First2 Scholars can work as researchers on research projects led by professors or industry partners, or alternatively, can work on their own independent research. For example, scholars can apply for financial support to work in partnership with another existing undergraduate research program, such as Research Rookies at WVSU or RAP at WVU. Scholars can apply to do community outreach and education programs, such as a coding program for middle school girls at WVU Tech. Scholars can apply for support to do STEM career immersion,such as interning in the workforce.

WHO CAN CURRENTLY APPLY FOR FIRST2 SCHOLAR MONEY?

Active student and professional ally members of the First2 Network were allowed to apply for funding in the fall of 2019.  During the spring of 2020 First2  continues to offer these positions to active students and professional allies of the network and is opening up 20 new spots to qualifying students with a proposal for a scholar position as well.  An active member is participating in First2 Network activities and programs. 

This funding call is specifically to support student stipends. Professional allies may apply for funding to support students to work on First2-related projects and initiatives.  

WHAT IF I HAVE WORK STUDY OR ANOTHER FORM OF SUPPORT? CAN I STILL BE A FIRST2 SCHOLAR?

If students have Work Study or another form of financial support to do research, we encourage students to use those funds. Students may opt into First2 Scholar activities, even if the student support stipend comes from another funding source. If you complete the First2 Scholars activities, you will be an official First2 Scholar for your professional bio and resume.

FUNDING AMOUNTS AND PARTICIPATION HOURS

First2 Academic Year Scholars are undergraduates who are granted an average of $1500 per academic semester in an educational stipend to do research, outreach, career immersion, mentoring, and First2 activities. This is based on an estimated average of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks each semester. Participation will be resourced at $10/hour. We expect that scholars may not be logging hours during midterms or finals, but will make up this time during other weeks, including weeks following a semester before the next semester begins.

First2 Summer Scholars are rising freshmen who are accepted at a First2 2-week immersive summer research internship. This internship is approximately 2 weeks long. Summer Scholars receive $600. Travel, room and board are provided for residential immersive experiences.

First2 Summer Mentor Scholars have completed at least one year of college, and will plan and mentor during summer immersive 2-week experiences for rising freshmen. Each Summer Mentor Scholar will be expected to do 40-70 hours of planning and wrap-up (including final reports), in addition to being a residential mentor for a 12 day internship. Summer Mentor Scholars receive $1600. Travel, room and board are provided for immersive experiences.

First2 Student Directors serve as the leaders of the student leaders (since all students in our network are leaders) as the staff for the network and campus clubs, and as campus and network liaison. Students can serve in a Director capacity in addition to doing research or being summer mentors. Our Student Directors are thought partners in leading the network, and work to coordinate student voice and participation in the network. Student Directors will receive up to

$750 per academic semester for their additional leadership responsibilities. Students should plan to spend 5-7 hours per week, and 2-3 full days of conferences and other in-person meetings with the First2 Network per semester. Student Directors will remain minimally active in the summer term, as we expect Directors to be fully immersed in career-advancing research internships of their own.

FIRST2 SCHOLARS REQUIREMENTS

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS: First2 Scholars funded through National Science Foundation INCLUDES grant monies must be first-generation college students or other underrepresented students in STEM intending to major or majoring in traditional STEM majors or in STEM education majors.

National Science Foundation funds must be used to support US citizens and permanent residents. International students, please contact us about getting involved through other means at first2studentcoordinator@gmail.com. 

First2 scholars are required to maintain a 2.5 GPA each semester. If a scholar’s GPA falls below 2.5, a written plan for improvement maybe submitted, and continue as a scholar on an improvement period for one semester. If a scholar with a previously low GPA finishes a semester with a 2.5 GPA, the student become eligible to receive funding as a First2 scholar again.

APPLICATION, FUNDING AND PAYMENT CYCLE

There will be a new application for First2 Scholars for each Fall Semester, Spring Semester, and Summer Term. Scholar money awarded that is not used by the end of each term will be forfeited and returned to the funding pool to fund other scholars.

Applications will generally be available before the start of the semester, and scholars will be notified as applicants are selected. We would like to notify as many scholars as possible before classes begin or in the first week of school, so that students can get right to work in labs and in campus programs. Payments will be made to students monthly. At the end of the month, students will turn in a monthly report and activity log, signed by their professional ally. First2 will process student stipends by the 15th day of the next month.

TAXES AND FAFSA

First2 student stipends are considered educational stipends. See a tax advisor for income-reporting requirements. Generally speaking, educational stipends are not subject to taxes unless the amount of the stipend exceeds qualified educational expenses. In general, if an educational stipend does not exceed the amount of qualified educational expenses, it would also not be reportable as income on taxes or FAFSA.

HOW TO APPLY

First2 Scholars may submit proposals to mentor under an existing project or projects that the students create. This project must fall within one of the First2 Scholars focus areas. 

Ready to apply?  Apply here.

WHAT IS A PROFESSIONAL ALLY?

Scholars will identify a professional ally who will advise and supervise their progress. A professional ally is a supervisor and a mentor. Professional allies will supervise student progress and performance. By spending 30 minutes together each week, professional allies will oversee student Scholars field work, as well as be informed about student progress and challenges as a First2 Leader. Scholars will be expected to participate in First2 activities, as will their professional allies.

WHAT CAN PROFESSIONAL ALLIES APPLY FOR?

Have a great idea and need some student power? Professional allies may submit proposals to have students work on research, ideas, and projects that professional allies create. These projects must be related to advancing the First2 Network aims. For example, if a professor would like to have student stipends set aside to support student time to co-create a class for first-gen STEM students, they can do so. Funding will be granted for student stipends to the awarded projects. To send a request, please send a project outline, budget for student stipends, and a description of how the work advances First2 Network aims to first2studentcoordinator@gmail.com.

If a professional ally request is awarded for student support, First2 will set earmark student stipends to be used to support student time in the professional ally’s lab or project. The professional ally will be responsible for recruiting appropriate student applicants. Professional allies will guide students through the student application portal, identifying the awarded project as the student’s chosen project and focus area, and the professional ally as the project supervisor. Again, scholars will be expected to participate in First2 activities, as will their professional allies.

The First2 Network continues to find new opportunities to partner and learn. Scholars or professional allies may ask for student support to work on projects relevant to First2. Therefore, exceptions to the general layout above may be reviewed on a case by case basis as promising ideas emerge.

Professional allies can also apply directly for stipends for themselves and travel support for themselves to engage in First2 Network improvement science work. To learn more, email erica.harvey@fairmontstate.edu. An application for professional allies for stipends is also here Here is the form to apply for funding for professional ally time or travel from First2: https://forms.gle/qUaMaWyR3yfseA1L6

CAMPUS REQUIREMENTS

To place First2 Scholars on a campus, each institution must agree to support staff and student participation in First2 activities, whether through an MOU with the institution or a formal letter of commitment from the faculty and/or department or institution. The First2 Network hopes to improve both student outcomes and effective institutional practices, policy, and culture in better supporting underrepresented students in STEM. We invite your institution to join us in this work, learning and growing together. First2 uses both Memorandums of Understanding and formal commitment letters to help clarify our relationship and our commitments to each other.

To receive First2 financial support for students, each institution will:

  1. Agree to support staff and students to participate in First2 Network activities and our First2 Network Improvement Community.
  2. Create an MOU or Letter of Commitment with the First2 Network (samples provided by First2 Network for reference).
  3. Designate a campus club advisor for a First2 campus club.
  4. Identify institutional resources that may be valuable in advancing First2 aims including: interested faculty and staff, money to support First2 activities, correlating initiatives and programs already in effect on campus.
  5. Share information about the First2 Network with their staff and students.
  6. Decide if the institution would like to be named publicly as a First2 partner.
  7. Anything else that seems like a good fit!

Each participating campus must designate a faculty or staff First2 club adviser, who will work in partnership with the Student Directors. Through a formal letter of commitment, the adviser agrees to be an active support to the campus club and the first point of contact for Student Directors on their campus. The First2 Network will provide a sample letter of commitment for club advisers. *Note: Although student Directors will be organizing a food plan for clubs, club advisers will be in charge of payment for food, and the First2 Network will work with club advisers to reimburse advisers or their institution directly, as appropriate.

Any professional ally supervising First2 Scholars in any capacity agrees to:

  1. Spend time advising and mentoring their First2 Scholar
  2. Sign off on Scholar activity logs and progress reports to certify that the First2 Scholar is fulfilling their requirements and release stipend payment each month.
  3. Consider attending the First2 semi-annual statewide conferences
  4. Be an ambassador for the First2 Network and support our aim of increasing persistence in STEM

If a campus can provide monetary support for campus clubs, Student Director stipends, or other support for First2 work on and with the institution, please let us know. Although we have money from the National Science Foundation to get started, we need to build financial partners to truly spread statewide.

If students are attending a school that is not yet a formal First2 partner, the First2 Steering Committee will actively work with that institution to put into place an MOU or partnership clarification letter.

FIRST2 SCHOLAR FUNDING PARTNERS

The First2 Network works with funding partners to gather resources to support students and the aim of the network. We have some startup funding from the National Science Foundation to get us up and running, and we would love to bring on new partners.

The First2 Network will make a formal Memorandum of Understanding (a non-binding written agreement between two parties) (MOU) with funding partners, to ensure that scholar funds are allocated as intended. For example, if DuPont would like to sponsor a DuPont First2 Scholars Fund, we could agree in an MOU that these scholars’ research site or job shadowing opportunity will be at DuPont. We will work together to design high-impact partnerships that work well for all partners, and consider the needs and interests of each partner.

The First2 Network will administer funds in the First2 Scholars program through High Rocks Educational Corporation with a 10% administrative fee to cover payroll, reporting, compliance, and other administrative needs, and a 5% program support fee to provide direct support in creating and troubleshooting effective programs.

WHAT AND HOW MUCH MONEY IS AVAILABLE?

For the Sept 1, 2019 – Aug 31, 2020 year:

  • Travel support for students: as needed
  • First2 Academic Year Scholars (fall and spring): $84,000 (56 semester placements)
  • First2 Summer Scholars (60 rising freshman): $36,000 across 6 sites
  • First2 Summer Mentor Scholars: $19,200 across 6 sites (12 mentors)
  • First2 Student Directors: $12,000 (8 Directors)
  • Campus Clubs food and activities: $3,000 across 5 campuses
  • Ambassador mini-grant program for club participants: $24,480 (37 students @ $650 each)
  • NOTE: Need money for supplies for scholars that need that support

ACCOUNTABILITY

To be accountable, a student needs to read and respond to messages in a professional and timely manner, represent the First2 Network in a professional and positive manner, fill out time sheets and reports by assigned deadlines, attend at least 70% of meetings and First2 state-wide conferences. If a student cannot attend a meeting, they are expected to provide advance notice to the group of Directors and the First2 Student Coordinator. In the case of missing conferences, extreme circumstances may be reviewed on case-by-case basis, and a substitute activity will be identified.

Scholars’ progress will be overseen by their professional ally – who will be both their mentor and their supervisor. Scholars who are struggling to meet program expectations may be placed on an improvement plan. Scholars who fail to complete program requirements in a timely and effective way may be dismissed from the program and forfeit remaining scholar money for that period.

Student Directors’ performance will be monitored by the First2 Student Coordinator, who will be responsible for coordinating selection, performance, improvement plans, and dismissal of Student Directors. Student Directors will be expected to fulfill all program requirements and to maintain high standards of accountability. Failure to do so will result in stepping down, or being let go, as a Director.

First2 reserves the right to dismiss Scholars for actions that violate the law, endanger others, or jeopardize the First2 Network and its aims.

FIRST2 SCHOLAR REQUESTS

For questions, or to submit a request for scholars, please submit a proposal and budget to first2studentcoordinator@gmail.com.

+