Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Higher Education

First Advisor

Judy Marquez Kiyama, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Cecilia Orphan

Third Advisor

Cecilia Rios-Aguilar

Fourth Advisor

Lolita Tabron


College success, Cultural capital, Familial capital, Funds of knowledge, Students of color, Underrepresented students


Increases in college enrollment have led to assessments of college success. These assessments consistently reveal disparities between students from historically underserved communities and students from the majority. Specifically, first-generation to college students, low-income students, and students of color continue to experience unequitable success in college. In response to these concerns, the scholarly community engages in research that expands our understanding of college success of these students and offers solutions to bolster their success. Nonetheless, much of this work engages a deficit oriented approach that centers attention on the resources that historically underrepresented communities do not possess and attributes lower college success of members of these communities to those factors.

Therefore, this research study challenged deficit ideologies utilizing the Funds of Knowledge (fok) theoretical framework to identify and quantify the fok of first-generation students, low-income students, and students of color. Furthermore, it explored the role of fok in empowering students from these groups to successfully navigate the college context. Specifically, a Transformative Mixed Methods design allowed study participants to share their lived experiences with fok in great depth through quantitative and qualitative approaches. A total of 745 participants across seven institutions of higher learning in the state of Colorado responded to the fok survey and 13 of those participants offered in-depth perspectives through focus groups and semi-structured interviews.

Findings from the study outline the fok present within study participants, the origin of fok and an overview of systemic inequity that pushed participants to activate their fok, followed by the utility of fok to successfully navigate the college context. This study is equally significant to scholars and practitioners concerned with equity and college success.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Delma Margot Ramos


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

356 p.


Higher education