'We Thrive' grant award supports wealth-building for women at M State

February 29, 2024

M State is enhancing its educational and entrepreneurial support services for women and gender-expansive students, thanks to a new $150,000 “We Thrive” grant award from the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. 

Designed to foster the long-term success of women and their families through the growth of intergenerational wealth, the “We Thrive” grant program invests in organizations and initiatives that address inequities in women’s access and opportunity. 

A group of students do a fist bump

M State will use the grant funds to bolster its wraparound support services for women and gender-expansive students, such as career planning, childcare, transportation, laptops and mental health services. In addition, and in alignment with the entrepreneurship goals of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, the West Central Minnesota Small Business Development Center will provide women with one-on-one business consultation services. The center is headquartered at M State’s Moorhead campus.

“Every college student deserves every opportunity for success,” says M State President Carrie Brimhall. “By supporting M State’s efforts to effectively identify and address the unique barriers to success faced by women and gender-expansive students, the ‘We Thrive’ grant award will help us ensure a more level playing field for everyone, so we can live out our vision of, ‘A success story for every student.’”

The grant period for M State began February 19. By the end of the one-year funding term, the grant’s impact is expected to have led to: 

  • An increased number of women enrolled in nontraditional career pathways at M State, such as the trades, STEM and entrepreneurship.
  • Enhanced communication from M State students regarding their basic needs, which will drive the college’s direction in cultivating beneficial partnerships with local industry, workforce organizations and K-12 schools.
  • Increased retention rates among M State students of color who identify as women.

Women and gender-expansive students comprise 61% of M State’s total student enrollment. Of those, 22% identify as students of color.

“We Thrive” grant program funding is prioritized to equity-minded rural trade schools and technical colleges in Minnesota that, like M State, offer women supportive services, urgent needs assistance, culturally responsive leadership development and financial education. According to the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, most careers requiring a technical degree are considered nontraditional for women and yet have much to offer them, including higher median wages, greater job security, family-supporting benefits and more opportunities for advancement. 

Research by the foundation shows that women are clustered in low-wage work and make up the majority of Minnesota workers paid at or below the minimum wage. They are also more likely than men to experience poverty, especially in rural parts of the state. To build economic wealth and security, the foundation believes, women must have access to education, workforce development, employment and childcare.

“We are excited to work in partnership with your program to create a world of equal opportunity, where women and girls – and all people – hold the power to create and live safe, prosperous lives,” states Women’s Foundation of Minnesota President and CEO Gloria Perez in M State’s grant award letter.

A member of the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities, M State (Minnesota State Community and Technical College) serves more than 10,000 students in credit and non-credit courses each year in over 70 career and liberal arts programs online and in-person at its four campuses in Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Moorhead and Wadena. The college also partners with communities to provide workforce development services and other responsive training programs to 500 businesses and thousands of annual participants.