Founding Scholars

Founding Scholars welcomes new, incoming first-generation college students to life at GW. Students will build community with other first-gen students, connect with faculty and staff, and learn about valuable academic and campus resources while learning more about Washington, D.C. This program is specifically designed for first-generation students. We welcome you to register if you identify as a first-gen student.  


Founding Scholar students eating dinner at a restaurant.


"The Founding Scholars program helped immensely in my first year of college at a PWI, I was nervous and scared that I would be isolated from spaces because of my background.  This program welcomed me with a community that taught me that I was not alone and that I belonged here.  I found a family that equipped me with the resources and confidence necessary to be successful as a first-gen, second-generation, person of color."

Alejandra Varela
Class of 2023

Program Overview 

Small groups and peer guides are a signature part of our co-curricular programs. Incoming student participants will be placed in a small group led by two upper-year peer guides who act as mentors, lead small group discussions and activities, guide reflection on what it means to be a first-generation student, and help participants get to know more about GW and Washington, D.C. Students that sign up to participate in Founding Scholars are expected to be available to engage during all program dates and times. 

Program Benefits

By addressing the unique characteristics of this population, Founding Scholars aims to reduce barriers between first-generation students and continuing-generation peers, acclimating students to their new home, fostering connectedness, and providing a successful start to the college experience.

Founding Scholars participants will:

  • Explore what it means to be first-gen at GW;
  • Build community with first-gen peers;
  • Connect with faculty/staff; 
  • Learn about valuable academic and campus resources to succeed at GW; and
  • Explore your new home in Washington, D.C., learn how to navigate the city, and discover some of what it offers alongside your peers.



 of students agreed that they could apply their strengths as a first-generation student after Founding Scholars


incoming students participated in 2019, the first year of Founding Scholars


$75 per participantThe program fee will be charged to your student account in August. The fee will cover program supplies, t-shirts, and snacks. We will provide food for off-campus activities away from dining halls.

We do not want program fees to be a barrier to participation. Fee waivers are available for those who express financial need. If you have questions about fee waivers, please reach out to the Founding Scholars team at [email protected]


The sign-up/application for Founding Scholars 2023 will open on Tuesday, May 16, and close on Sunday, July 23, or until the program is complete. Applicants will be notified if they are part of this year's Founding Scholars cohort by Friday, July 28.

Please note that you can only participate in one pre-orientation program. SEAS students, Women's Leadership Program (WLP), Civic House Scholars, and others with required programming on these program dates are not eligible to participate in Founding Scholars

    Apply for Founding Scholars!

Program Dates

Founding Scholars will occur from Thursday, August 17, to Friday, August 18.

Additional Information  

If you have any additional questions, please contact the Founding Scholars team at [email protected].