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Rivier University enhances student success with Lloyd G. Balfour Foundation grant

The grant will support the development of new initiative to elevate nursing students' success.

Lloyd B. Balfour FoundationRivier University has been awarded a two-year grant from the Lloyd G. Balfour Foundation to develop an early intervention program for at-risk nursing students. The $80,000 grant will support the Assessment and Supportive Connections for Early Nursing Development (ASCEND) program launch. This initiative aims to improve nursing students’ success, retention, and graduation rates and to help reduce the current nursing shortage.

“With a high number of job vacancies for registered nurses in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Rivier is uniquely positioned to alleviate this shortage through its program offerings,” said Dr. Paula Williams, Rivier University’s Dean of Nursing and Healthcare Professions. “The ASCEND program will implement academic advising and retention strategies to fill these openings with distinguished Rivier graduates.”

Rivier undergraduate nursing students will benefit from ASCEND’s proactive learning assessment and early intervention practices. Enhanced faculty-student engagement and relationships will connect students with appropriate support services including math tutoring, peer tutoring, and foundational skills development.

“Students often delay engagement with academic support services until it’s too late,” said Dr. Brian Ernsting, Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Proactively identifying and supporting at-risk students before academic struggles arise is critical to graduating more nurses.”

The grant will cover costs associated with the creation of assessment and intervention modules, as well as the development of best practices in engaging at-risk students to improve academic success. After the program is developed, Rivier will share ASCEND results and the model with other college and university nursing programs.

Established in 1973, the Lloyd G. Balfour Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee provides, in part, educational funding to organizations or programs that support underserved or under-represented populations to access, persist, and complete two- and four-year post-secondary degrees.

Rivier University offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in nursing, as well as bachelor’s and master’s degrees in public health. The top-ranked nursing school in New Hampshire and a top 50 private nursing school nationally, programs are offered on-campus and online. Prospective students should contact the Office of Admissions at or call (603) 897-8507 for more information and assistance.