The Council for Opportunity in Education Receives a Major Grant to Extend Opportunities to First-Generation and Low-Income Recent College Graduates Nationwide

The gift will support first-generation and low-income college graduates of a Federal TRIO program who apply for the Thomas R. Wolanin Congressional Internship. 

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) announces a significant grant from Floyd Stoner to aid Federal TRIO program alumni seeking careers in public policy. Stoner, who spent nearly three decades as a senior executive and chief lobbyist for the American Bankers Association and is himself a first-generation college graduate, made the donation to extend the resources of the Thomas R. Wolanin Congressional Internship to support students beyond the singular individual who is selected for the program.  

“Supporting the aspirations of first-generation college graduates is a cause deeply personal to me,” said Stoner. “By adding to the resources of the Wolanin Internship, we aim to empower more TRIO alumni to pursue impactful careers in public policy, ensuring their voices and experiences contribute to shaping our nation’s future.” 

The Thomas R. Wolanin Congressional Internship provides individuals who are in the first generation of their families to graduate from college with an opportunity to observe and participate in the federal policymaking process firsthand. COE and the family of Thomas R. Wolanin established the program in memory of Dr. Wolanin, who championed student financial aid and college access. Wolanin was a faculty mentor of Stoner’s at the University of Wisconsin, and Stoner has been involved in supporting all five cycles of the internship program thus far.  

The paid Thomas R. Wolanin Congressional Internship gives first-generation and low-income college graduates of a TRIO program the opportunity to observe and participate first-hand in the federal policymaking process through an experience on Capitol Hill.

“Over the last few years, we have had an outstanding pool of applicants, and we have only been able to select one candidate for the internship each year. We have wanted to assist other worthy candidates,” said COE President Kimberly Jones. “We are grateful to Dr. Stoner because his contribution allows us to help TRIO alumni in their future endeavors.” 

Through this gift, finalists who are not selected for the internship might be eligible for a small grant that could be used to visit a graduate school, take a standardized testing prep course, or for other educational or career-related purposes. 

Following their internship experiences, past recipients of the Wolanin Internship have gone on to work on presidential campaigns, staff municipal officials, and serve as advocates at local non-profit agencies. The next cycle of the Wolanin Internship will launch this summer with applications opening in June 2024 at Candidates must be highly recommended first-generation college graduates with a keen interest in public policy, must have participated in one of the federally funded TRIO programs, and must have graduated within the last five years. 

About the Council for Opportunity in Education

The Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) is a nonprofit organization, established in 1981, dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students, and students with disabilities in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., the Pacific Islands, and Puerto Rico. Its membership includes more than 1,000 colleges and agencies. Through its numerous membership services, the Council works in conjunction with colleges, universities, and agencies to help low-income students enter college and graduate. Nearly a million low-income students and students with disabilities each year receive college access and retention services through our member colleges and agencies.

Media Inquiries

For media inquiries or to arrange an interview, please contact Terrance L. Hamm, associate vice-president for communications and marketing at COE via email at [email protected] or call (202) 347-7430.

More News & Impact