Researching and Strengthening Student Resilience on College Campuses

The Resiliency Project has produced several lessons, some about the nature of cross-campus research and others about resiliency and opportunities for intervention.


  • Gathering data across multiple campuses over several years is a daunting task. Since student participation is voluntary, campuses must develop creative ways to encourage ongoing involvement.
  • Mass data collection requires a clear focus and framework for common analysis. Campuses worked together to create a framework that would be useful to all.
  • Resiliency is not just in the mind. It is closely tied to overall wellness, and includes aspects of physical, mental and emotional health.
  • Student engagement is a key indicator of resiliency, and is largely influenced by the degree of faculty and staff involvement.
  • Students provide valuable insights as researchers and as research participants. In many cases, student input is helping to develop interventions and intervention delivery systems (such as delivering resiliency information through short BuzzFeed videos rather than via in-person lectures).   
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities, such as JCSU, have traditionally offered more support for student resiliency than non-HBCUs, and have a lot to contribute to the discussion.
  • Promising interventions are those that address both academic and social issues, promote long-term engagement, provide an authentic connection with a caring adult, and recognize that failure and imperfection are a normal part of college life.


  • Over its first two years, the Resiliency Project collected data on more than 4,000 variables from more than 1,000 students, and that collection continues.
  • The Resiliency Project has provided a rare opportunity for researchers on campuses to analyze and apply their own learning directly back to their campuses. As one shared, “Doing research that will be used locally on campus is unheard of. Basic researchers never get to do this!”
  • Issues of resiliency are tied to perceptions of value when it comes to the college experience. The Gallup Purdue Index report shows key elements of the college experience that are powerful predictors of later thriving and well-being. For example:
    • If graduates strongly agree that they were “emotionally supported” by a professor or other mentor during college, the odds that they are engaged in their work and thriving in the overall well-being double.
    • Graduates who had “experiential and deep learning” – such as a long-term project, internship or intense extracurricular engagement – had more workplace engagement.
    • Graduates who interacted with people from different backgrounds during college are more than twice as likely to say their education was worth the cost. 


Area of Work

  • Educational access and success

Program Area

  • Higher Education

Grantmaking Status

The Endowment is continuing to work through current grantees and is not accepting new applications.

Areas of Work

  • Prevention and early intervention for at-risk children

    To equip children and families with skills to ensure that children reach developmental milestones to lead successful lives.

  • Out-of-home care for youth

    To drive child welfare systems toward greater accountability for child well-being.

  • Quality and safety of health care

    Improving the quality and safety of health care delivery

  • Access to health care

    Improving health by increasing access to comprehensive care

  • Prevention

    Expanding programs to promote health and prevent disease

  • Academic excellence

    Enhancing academic excellence through program and campus development

  • Educational access and success

    Increasing educational access and supporting a learning environment that promotes achievement

  • Campus and community engagement

    Promoting a culture of service, collaboration and engagement among schools and communities

  • Rural church development

    Building the infrastructure and capacity of United Methodist churches to enhance ministry and mission

  • Clergy leadership

    Strengthening United Methodist churches by improving the quality and effectiveness of church leadership

  • Congregational outreach

    Engaging United Methodist congregations in programs that serve their communities