Design by Erin Ruark. Buy this photo.

The Transfer Bridges to the Humanities @ Michigan Program will receive a $3.4 million grant from the Mellon Foundation to support transfer students as they transition from in-state community colleges to the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus, according to a press release Monday morning from the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. 

Transfer Bridges is designed to assist students majoring in the humanities at Henry Ford College in their transfer process to the University. The program also provides accessible opportunities to engage with the campus community on both a professional and extracurricular level. In addition, the shared University organization works to pair transfer students with U-M faculty and advisors to aid them in the academic shift.   

The Mellon Foundation grant will be used to provide community college students with paid summer internships, undergraduate research opportunities and service-based learning projects at the University. In Fall 2021, 100% of program participants applied to and attended the University, according to the press release.

The new funding will also allow the program — which is currently a partnership between only the University and Henry Ford College — to expand and include two additional community colleges: Schoolcraft College and Grand Rapids Community College.

Program manager Jesse Carr noted that lack of finances can prevent students enrolled in Michigan community colleges from pursuing unpaid opportunities. With this program, they will be able to take opportunities that would otherwise be inaccessible to them.

“Students with enough resources can take unpaid internships or special opportunities and learning experiences and have the expenses paid for, but a lot of these students don’t have those opportunities,” Carr said.

Carr said he is excited for the funding to help provide community college students with the resources and opportunities to succeed at the University. He also noted that many of the program’s students are first-generation undergraduates and are more than capable of thriving at the institution. 

“A lot of these students are really amazing,” Carr said. “It’s just (that) they don’t have the types of connections or institutional knowledge. A vast majority of the students in the program are first-generation students. And they’re very talented, very capable of succeeding here.”

LSA junior Yasmeen Berry said the Transfer Bridges program helped facilitate her transition to the University from Henry Ford College in Fall 2021. Berry participated in humanities research through the Mellon Research Scholars Fellowship through the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program in 2019 and 2020.

“The program allowed me to form really great connections that I still hold today in research, and start building that network before I made the transition,” Berry said. 

Berry is now the lead UROP Mellon Scholars program coordinator and mentors Henry Ford College students in the program by helping them find important financial resources and academic opportunities.

“I wanted to give back to the program,” Berry said. “They really (mean) a lot to me and so I really wanted to find ways to increase opportunities for individuals that are currently in the shoes I was in at that moment.”

LSA junior Nusrat Atika, who also transferred from Henry Ford College, said the program was helpful in providing access to peer mentors and U-M advisors to help aid a smooth transition.

“You know the (transfer) application process is mentally draining,” Atika said. “But the peer mentors checking in on us was really helpful, and I got to meet with advisors as well to make sure my classes (could) transfer. A lot of community colleges don’t have that established program and the same opportunities I had. I think it’s a really good idea that the program is expanding.”

Daily Staff Reporter Varsha Vedapudi can be reached at