Office of FGLI Initiatives hopes to uplift first-generation, low-income students


Madison Bratley/The Daily Northwestern

The Office of the Provost contains the Office of FGLI Initiatives.

Olivia Mofus, Reporter

Michael Fitzpatrick, senior director of first-generation and lower-income initiatives for the Office of the Provost, said his biggest challenge as a FGLI college student was navigating the different, often implicit expectations of student life and the growing separation he felt from home.

“While I had some academic challenges when I was a FGLI undergraduate, I always thought I would eventually figure things out,” Fitzpatrick said in an email to the Daily. 

Housed within the Office of the Provost, the Office of FGLI Initiatives aims to promote and advocate for the success of FGLI students. Fitzpatrick began leading the office in March.

The office offers services such as Books for ’Cats and Laptops/Flights for International Students for Northwestern’s growing FGLI population, comprising more than 15% of the Class of 2026. This number has nearly doubled since 2010. 

Fitzpatrick said the office was established to develop policies and coordinate programming to support undergraduate FGLI students at Northwestern. 

Before coming to NU, Fitzpatrick worked as the senior associate director of academic affairs at Yale University. He also led First-Year Scholars at Yale, which advises Yale FGLI students through a summer program.

In his new role, Fitzpatrick said he is eager to make NU more welcoming for all FGLI students.

“As I approach this job, I want Northwestern to be a place where FGLI students not only find success academically, but also have the support they need to develop and follow their passions outside of the classroom,” Fitzpatrick said. 

Weinberg freshman Alexandria Perez said she has used the Books for ’Cats program, which allows eligible students to borrow course materials for more than 100 select introductory courses.

While she is grateful for the program, Perez said she has been frustrated by the program limiting its services to only first-year students. Perez said Books for ’Cats helped to relieve the stress of paying for textbooks and access codes this year.

“It’s been nice not having to worry about where to find the required materials for my classes,” Perezsaid. “I did hear that as of recent, Books for ’Cats won’t be available anymore for sophomores, which I know has raised some frustration because buying books can be burdensome for many.”

When she used the program last year, Weinberg sophomore Skyler Stone said not all of her classes were covered. She would prefer to see the program provide students funds to purchase the books they need, rather than requiring students choose from the bookstore selection. 

Stone voiced concerns about losing access next year to resources she currently has as a sophomore, namely her meal plan and the Winter Gear Program, which provides winter gear to low-income students. 

“I can’t get a winter gear grant anymore because I got it my first year,” Stone said. “I didn’t have any winter gear, so I basically used all of it to the point that it’s ripping, and it’s not super great quality anymore, so that’s something I have to think about in the near future.”

Fitzpatrick said he looks forward to the future of the office and what it can accomplish for FGLI students. 

That vision means working with student groups and different NU offices, as well as often reflecting on its own work each year, he said.

“We will review the work of the Office every year in conjunction with our University partners and, incorporating student feedback, will consider adding programs and further expansion where resources allow,” Fitzpatrick said. 

Email: [email protected]

Related Stories: 

FGLI students say they often struggle transitioning to NU’s STEM courses

Benavides: I have hope that more FGLI students will change our campus for the better

Compass peer mentor program gives FGLI students a place to call home