First-Generation Celebration Day

First-Generation Celebration Day • November 8, 2020 • Nationwide

On November 8, 2020, we encourage colleges and universities to celebrate the success of first-generation college students, faculty, and staff on your campus in any and every way possible. Consider how you can build relationships with colleagues, involve leadership, and use First-Generation Celebration Day as a galvanizing force across your campus community.

Join us in advancing an asset-based national narrative on first-generation student experiences and outcomes. Use November 8 to encourage campus communities to better understand the systemic barriers plaguing higher education and the supports necessary for this important and resilient population to continue thriving.


National Celebrations

Thursday, November 5 and Friday, November 6, 2020

In 2017, COE and the Center for First-generation Student Success launched the inaugural First-Generation College Celebration! Given the continued success of this event, COE and the Center now partner to make this celebration annual.

For Students:

  • This year, COE and the Center for First-generation Student Success hosts a free and virtual celebration for college and college-bound students on Thursday, November 5 from 6 to 7 p.m. ET. First-generation students nationwide will join COE’s DJ Faro and first-generation peers and champions for this pre-celebration of National First-Generation College Celebration Day.
  • Need to register several of your students at once? Click here Document is available for download (.xls) to download a spreadsheet to register several of your first-generation participants at once for a fun-filled hour of music, trivia, and prizes. E-mail your completed student participant list to Jennifer Rudolph at (

For College Access Professionals:

  • COE and the Center for First-generation Student Success invite you to participate in the Joint Virtual First-Generation College Celebration on Friday, November 6 from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. ET.
  • This free webinar will feature a panel discussion about the history of the first-generation student definition, utilizing an asset-based lens. Space is limited so please register today.

Resources for TRIO

To support the many ways that TRIO plan to participate in the First-Generation College Celebration, COE created a resource to help programs understand each TRIO project’s regulations describe three areas where supplies are allowable costs: supplies needed for project recordkeeping, supplies needed for project administration, and supplies needed for participant development, or delivering services to participants.

Share Your Plans

Communications efforts can and should involve multiple tactics that will help students identify other first-generation collegegoers on campus and boost support within the campus community. Use this template press release to share your planned activities with the media and use #CelebrateFirstGen to share messages across your social media networks.

2020 Grant Recipients

In support of the 2020 First-Generation College Celebration, COE, the Center for First-Generation Student Success, and The Suder Foundation continue to offer the grant opportunity! These funds are intended to extend an institution's ability to reach more first-generation students, engage more members of the campus community, launch a new program or event, or to provide additional services surrounding the First-Generation College Celebration.

We are pleased to announce the 31 recipients for their efforts to raise awareness and celebrate the accomplishments of first-generation students, staff, and faculty. See the list of 2020 recipients.

In 2019, the grant supported 24 institutions’ efforts to raise awareness and celebrate the accomplishments of first-generation students, staff, and faculty. Read the press release Document is available for download (.pdf) summarizing institutions' celebrations.

Ways to Participate

There are myriad ways to participate in the celebration — even virtually.

For the past four years institutions from across the nation celebrated first-generation students, faculty, and staff on November 8 and highlighted the important contributions made within the campus communities. From keynote speakers and brown bag lunches to launching awareness campaigns and new strategic plans, the opportunities for celebrations are endless.

  • Webinars featuring notable first-generation alumni and other speakers,
  • Virtual panel discussions and forums featuring remarks by first-generation college students and faculty who were first-generation about their college experiences,
  • Inclusion of first-generation faculty experiences into classroom discussions,
  • Virtual listening sessions by administration and faculty about first-generation students’ experiences and needs on campus,
  • Creation of multimedia materials (including video messages) of first-generation students for use in admissions and faculty development sessions,
  • Interviews with trustees, administrators, and faculty who are first-generation.

At many institutions, November 8 events have grown to week-long, or even month-long celebrations. We hope you are also planning a celebration for 2020!