September 8, 2021

Goucher’s new student success program ‘launches’

The LAUNCH Network is an integrated, four-year program designed to welcome new students to Goucher and is supported by the Jessie Ball duPont Fund.

This summer, Goucher College introduced the LAUNCH Network, an integrated, four-year program designed to foster an inclusive and supportive environment for new students to succeed in college and beyond. The LAUNCH Network is partially funded by $100,000 from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund to support Goucher’s efforts to provide first-generation college students from underserved populations the services they need to complete a liberal arts degree. 

The program includes student training and support for developing digital literacy and enhancing reading, writing, math, communication, time management, study, and organizational skills. The LAUNCH Network also offers peer mentors and cocurricular workshops, along with activities and excursions. 

“Given varying socioeconomic and educational backgrounds and experiences, not all students arrive on campus on an equal playing field,” said Emily Perl, associate vice president for student success. “To support student success and retention, a campus-wide team is establishing the LAUNCH Network to provide students with the tools and assistance they need to thrive in college and their career. We are grateful for the Jessie Ball duPont Fund grant to help support our mission.”

This summer, the first cohort of invited undergraduates to join the LAUNCH Network included first-generation students, Maryland Scholars, and Pell Grant-eligible students. Plans for the program include expanding openings for larger groups of students each year. 

“Our inaugural SummerLAUNCH program was an overall success,” said Melissa Alexander, LAUNCH Network director. “We formally welcomed 32 students to campus who spent two weeks integrating into our campus community as part of the initial program.”

Alexander, who brings experience in student affairs, advising, and teaching from their time at American University, Syracuse University, and the Ohio State University, will coordinate, implement, and evaluate the SummerLAUNCH program. They will also help to build a four-year program that provides LAUNCH participants with scaffolded experiences and ongoing support and mentorship throughout their academic career at Goucher.

“I hope our LAUNCH students connect with one another and view the LAUNCH Network as part of their Goucher support system while maintaining their engagement and excitement for the program and Goucher,” said Alexander. “I would like to see the LAUNCH Network evolve into a program that is recognized among peer institutions and nationally as a result of its success in student retention and persistence.”

The Jessie Ball duPont Fund is committed to creating communities of belonging and focuses on inclusive, accessible, equitable, and collaborative partnerships. The organization believes that everyone deserves access to a good education, quality health care, and opportunities to build wealth.

For more information on the LAUNCH Network, visit  Read Goucher College Trustee Kara Bundy '02's speech to LAUNCH Network students at the summer program's closing event: