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Kessler Scholars Program

Putting First Gen First

The Kessler Scholars Program for the UD Sinclair Academy provides holistic support for a diverse community of high-achieving students who are the first in their family to pursue a four-year college degree. Combining generous scholarships with cohort-based engagement and individualized guidance, the Kessler Scholars Program provides first-generation college students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed and to thrive at Sinclair, UD and beyond.

view of UD campus and city of Dayton

Turning Dreams Into Reality

Kessler Scholars will benefit from a wide range of support — financial, academic and personal — designed specifically to meet the needs of students who are the first in their families to pursue a college degree.


Across their four-year journeys at Sinclair College and the University of Dayton, Kessler Scholars are part of a close-knit community of first-generation students empowered with resources, support and opportunities to connect with faculty, alumni and leaders on campus and beyond, including:

  • Substantial financial aid at Sinclair and a full tuition scholarship at UD upon transition.
  • Aid to reduce on-campus housing and meal plan costs at UD. 
  • A unique academic experience that promotes one-on-one guidance from advisers and peer mentors, hands-on leadership experiences and opportunities for community engagement.


To be considered for the Kessler Scholars Program for the UD Sinclair Academy, students must apply to the UD Sinclair Academy by February 1.

Learn more about Kessler Scholars eligibility, application and selection process.


Student-Centered Principles

Support Right From the Start

The pursuit of a four-year college degree can be particularly challenging to navigate for first-generation students whose family members cannot easily provide guidance about the often complex and unwritten rules of higher education. Providing multifaceted, transformative support to first-generation students across their undergraduate journeys and beyond is at the core of the Kessler Scholars Program for the UD Sinclair Academy.

An Instant Community That Cares

There is no substitute for the solid foundation of a diverse, compassionate community of peers to help first-generation college students succeed. The Kessler Scholars Program is designed with a committed and intentional focus on cohort-based community via group classes, events and support systems that build a true focus on actual peers. Kessler Scholars work together to build a sense of belonging and shared identity to create networks intended to last well beyond their time at Sinclair and UD.

Success Without Boundaries

The Kessler Scholars Program’s ultimate aim is to provide the resources and support necessary so that first-generation college students don’t just survive college but that they thrive — making their mark as strong leaders on campus, in their communities and beyond. College success stretches well beyond the boundaries of Sinclair and UD. The Kessler Scholars Program is designed to ensure first-generation UDSA students have the resources and support to achieve it.

Kessler Scholars

Nationwide Collaborative

Cultivating a Community Based on Success

The Kessler Scholars Program is part of the national Kessler Scholars Collaborative, a collection of 16 colleges and universities nationwide that are transforming the undergraduate experience for first-generation college students. Students who join the Kessler Scholars Program are part of a powerful network of first-generation leaders, connected across multiple institutions throughout their undergraduate college experience and beyond.

Two $1M gifts boost UD Sinclair Academy

The University of Dayton will offer new scholarships and support to students in the UD Sinclair Academy with two major gifts — $1.25 million from a local couple who wish to remain anonymous and $1 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Judy and Fred Wilpon Family Foundation.

Read More

Valerie Blackwell-Truitt, Director of the Kessler Scholars Program for the UD-Sinclair Academy

Albert Emanuel Hall
300 College Park
Dayton, Ohio 45469


To be considered for the Kessler Scholars Program, apply to the UD Sinclair Academy and file the FAFSA by February 1.