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The new textbook initiative is the latest in a series of gains for the FGLI community at Penn, as it comes on the heels of the establishment of a FGLI Center last year.

Credit: Luke Chen

After paying for tuition, housing and dining, some students still don’t have the means to purchase all of the textbooks necessary for their classes. And this burden can fall disproportionately on first-generation, low-income students. With this in mind, Penn Libraries launched an initiative to help out.

Penn Libraries partnered with the FGLI students program — which is housed in the Greenfield Intercultural Center — and requested funding from donors to help pay a portion of textbook costs for students.

Sara Leavens, the communications, marketing and social media coordinator for Penn Libraries, said she supports the efforts her organization has made to assist FGLI students.

“We feel that reaching out to this community is integral to our mission, not only for community outreach but just in general,” she said. “We want to make sure that resources are open to as many people as possible.”

Penn Libraries did have resources available to students before this initiative, but they did not have a specific program targeted towards FGLI students.

“We have always tried to keep books on course reserve for students who couldn’t afford them, but it was kind of under the radar,” Leavens said. “It wasn’t anything specifically official.”

Now, the initiative is being promoted so that students who need assistance paying for textbooks can learn about it.

Penn Libraries approached the Greenfield Intercultural Center in an effort to connect with FGLI students. 2015 College graduate Isaac Silber, the FGLI program coordinator at the Greenfield Intercultural Center, said he thinks the program will be valuable for students in need of such assistance.

“A concern among a lot of FGLI students is that the cost of textbooks is not fully met by the amount of funds allotted to the cost of textbooks by financial services for students,” Silber said. “I think that the library kind of reached out to us seeing those concerns.”

Director of the Greenfield Intercultural Center Valerie De Cruz said she is pleased that the Penn community has been so willing to listen to the concerns of FGLI students.

“We’ve been thrilled with the response that we’ve been getting from colleagues, administrators and faculty across campus,” she said. “When they heard the concerns that students had in different areas, they reached out to us to build partnerships.”

2005 College graduate Jamie-Lee Josselyn, the associate director for recruitment at the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, works to support the FGLI students on Penn’s campus because she was a first-generation student at Penn herself.

“I am just really excited for this [initiative] and I know that this will take some very real stress off some of our students,” Josselyn said. “Even for those who don’t directly benefit from it, I think that it’s just very exciting and important for everybody to know that Penn is supporting its FGLI students in this way.”

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