RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has announced that it has been awarded $1.3 million for a prestigious academic program.

According to the university, the grant will fund the Robert E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program, which assists low-income people, first-generation college students and people with disabilities through the academic pipeline from middle school to postgraduate programs. VCU is one of three Virginia universities to receive the grant.

“We couldn’t be more excited to initiate the Ronald McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program at VCU. Participation in McNair gives our students the support, inspiration and access they need to seek an advanced degree,” said Tomikia LeGrande, Ed.D., vice president for strategy, enrollment management, and student success. “The McNair Program is one way we’re showing our commitment to the success of all of our students. We’ve created and sustained a unique culture of care and we have an unrelenting focus on meeting the needs of our diverse student population.”

Ronald McNair, who the program is named after, was the second African-American to fly in space and was a member of the seven-member Challenger Space Shuttle crew, all of whom tragically died during a mission in 1986.