Skip to main content

Grant Will Create New Study Abroad Opportunities for TRIO Students

The Goodwin Meissner Family Foundation has provided a grant to make study abroad opportunities more accessible for NC State students.

Close up of a study abroad button on a student's backpack, with a building in China in the background

According to research from the University of Georgia system’s GLOSSARI Project, studying abroad leads to improved academic performance, graduation rates and knowledge of cultural practices for students in underserved populations. However, many of those students choose not to apply for these experiences due to financial concerns, a lack of knowledge about traveling abroad, and a lack of self-confidence.

A recent gift from the Goodwin Meissner Family Foundation (GMFF) makes studying abroad more feasible and accessible for students in NC State’s TRIO programs. The grant will help TRIO develop a summer experience that exposes students to a different global and cultural context not ordinarily accessible. This experience will bring together both collegiate students and high school seniors to implement a near-peer mentorship model helping to cultivate authentic relationships in which mentors can serve as trusted resources and strong guides for high school students. 

TRIO staff will partner with NC State’s Study Abroad Office this summer to select a destination and a certified travel provider. The Office of Global Engagement will also provide students with training through the Global Training Initiative.

“The funding from the GMFF allows TRIO to curate an amazing experience that not only exposes students to different people and places, but also creates an opportunity for our college TRIO students to mentor our pre-college TRIO students as they go through this experience together,” said Courtney Simpson, senior director of TRIO Collegiate Programs. “We cannot thank the GMFF enough for their investment in the lives of our students. Beyond funding student scholarships and this abroad experience, the support from the GMFF will be felt and remembered by students for years to come.”

According to the 2019 Open Doors Report, less than 10% of undergraduate students studied abroad before the COVID-19 pandemic. That number was significantly less for TRIO-eligible students, with just 1% of TRIO Collegiate members studying abroad this year and 0% of pre-college students having an abroad experience. Some TRIO high school students have never left their county or state by the time they graduate from high school.

TRIO was GMFF’s first community partner when it started in 2015, and over the years it has provided more than $800,000 in support for pre-college and college programs.

Meet the Goodwin Meissner Family Foundation

“TRIO’s strategic priorities align very closely with our own, which are to help students attend college and graduate with a degree that they can monetize,” said Laura Meissner, president of GMFF. “We believe that helping these students is really a benefit not just to them, but also their families and broader communities.”

In addition to providing funding, Meissner said the foundation wants to provide students with life and career experiences.

“First-generation and students from underserved communities need experiences that level the playing field, if you will, with other students who come to campus with more opportunities and a more diverse background in terms of their exposure to other cultures,” said Laura Meissner, president of GMFF. “Supporting study abroad opportunities aligns with our mission because it helps students round out their cultural experiences and also provides them with a competitive advantage in the professional workforce.”

Learn more about NC State’s TRIO programs and stay tuned for further updates about the study abroad program at, and learn more about giving to TRIO and other programs in the Division of Academic and Student Affairs at