CWU News

CWU McNair Scholars Program Receives Five-Year, $1.31 Million Federal Grant

The 2019 McNair Scholars graduating cohort at CWU

The McNair Scholars program at CWU received a five-year, $1.31 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education this summer.

The TRIO McNair Scholars Program has made an indelible mark on Central Washington University since it was introduced in 1991, paving the way for hundreds of first-generation college students and people from low-income and underrepresented backgrounds to attend graduate school, conduct critical research, and build their professional networks. 

Now, CWU’s McNair chapter is prepared to take its influential work even further after receiving a five-year, $1.31 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education this summer. The total award comes out to $261,888 per year, which will serve 27 eligible students annually at an average cost of $9,700 each.

The entire federal program will distribute $51.7 million to 189 McNair chapters in 45 states and Puerto Rico between now and 2027. CWU is one of five Washington higher education institutions to be funded this year, and its program is administered by the School of Graduate Studies and Research.

“We are grateful and delighted to be able continue serving eligible Central students through this vital and rewarding program for the next five years, and hopefully, well into the future,” program Director Pamela Nevar said. “Of course, we could not run this program without the generous support of Central’s faculty, staff, and administrators.”

Former CWU McNair Scholars Alex Harrington, left, and Raeanne Tegman meet in the McNair office at the L&L Building in 2019.CWU represents one of the original McNair institutions in the country, and it is among the first in the state. Over the past 31 years, Central’s program has served more than 800 students in its commitment to increasing the number of low-income, first-generation undergraduates, and underrepresented minority students who earn doctoral degrees. It also prepares participants for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities, such as presenting at the annual SOURCE undergraduate research conference.

In addition, McNair-funded initiatives prepare students for doctoral study through tutoring, academic counseling, and assistance with securing admission to and financial assistance for enrollment in graduate programs. Affiliated projects may also provide services designed to improve financial and economic literacy of students, along with mentoring programs and exposure to cultural events and academic programs not typically available to students from underserved backgrounds.

“When we look at U.S. students studying to become our future physicians, professors, scientists and other crucial professionals requiring graduate degrees, many demographic groups are underrepresented, including first-generation college students and those from low-income families,” said Nasser Paydar with the Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education. “McNair grants fund projects at universities and colleges that help underrepresented students to access doctoral programs.”

Joining CWU on the list of this year’s McNair grant awardees are 14 Historically Black College and Universities (HBCUs)and 55 Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), which include Hispanic Serving, Native American-Serving Non-Tribal Institutions, Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institutions.

The program—officially named the Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program, after the late NASA astronaut—is currently recruiting for its 2024 undergraduate cohort. 

Students who are considering a career in research or university teaching are encouraged to work with the CWU McNair Scholars office to see if they qualify. Participation not only enhances students’ qualifications as graduate school candidates; it gives them opportunities to experience the professional side of academia firsthand.

For more information, email, call 509-963-2869, or stop by the office in the Language and Literature building, suite 103. Read more about the program in this 2019 CWU news story.

Media Contact: David Leder, Department of Public Affairs,, 509-963-1518