First2 Network

First2 Network Logo


First2 Network (First2) is a statewide program geared towards improving the entry, persistence, and success of rural, first-generation science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students. The goal of First2 is to double the number of STEM graduates in the state of West Virginia. In September 2018, First2 received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Inclusion across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discovers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES) award of $7.15 million for the next 5 years. First2 is one of only five NSF INCLUDES alliances funded nationwide. This funding, coordinated through the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) Division of Science & Research allows us to develop a statewide network of innovative stakeholders who are working to make a collective impact on the enrollment and retention rates of our STEM students. As members of First2, students become agents of change and are empowered to be co-creators of the solutions to STEM persistence.

The First2 Network brings together a growing number of organizations representing higher education institutions, K-12 education, federally funded research labs, and industry associations aimed at improving the graduation rate of undergraduate STEM students with emphasis on rural, first-generation students through their first 2 years of college. The First2 Network's shared vision is to:

  • Double the number of STEM graduates from (30% to 60%) in West Virginia within 10 years
  • Complete a comprehensive research study to advance understanding of the factors affecting rural first-generation students entry into and persistence in STEM career pathways
  • Build a collaborative culture that results in a sustainable, long-lived improvement network
  • Create a model program for other EPSCoR states and expand our Network to 2 additional EPSCoR states within 5 years


Current Partners:

WVHEPC Division of Science and Research

SRI International

West Virginia University

Marshall University

Fairmont University

West Virginia State University

Health Sciences and Technology Academy at West Virginia University

Green Banks Observatory

High Rocks Educational Corporation

West Virginia Department of Education STEM Council


To learn more about First2 Network, please visit our website at

Be sure to follow us on social media to hear about all of the exciting things that our students are doing!

Twitter: @First2Network

Facebook: @First2Network

Instagram: First2_Network




Expanding the First2 STEM Success Network.

  • Award Number: HRD-1834595; Principal Investigator: Sarah Riley; High Rocks Educational Corporation.
  • Award Number: HRD-1834586; Principal Investigator: Juliana Serafin; Higher Education Policy Commission.
  • Award Number: HRD-1834601; Principal Investigator: Sue Ann Heatherly; Associated Universities Inc/National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
  • Award Number:HRD-1834575; Principal Investigator: Erica Harvey; Fairmont State University.
  • Award Number: HRD-1834569; Principal Investigator: Gay Stewart; Co-Principal Investigators: Roxann Humbert, John Stewart, Marjorie Darrah, West Virginia University

If you would like to partner with First2 and help make an impact on STEM persistence in the state of West Virginia, please contact the First2 Program Coordinator, Jade Irving at