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TRIO Educational Talent Search at UMPI wins competitive grant

The University of Maine at Presque Isle’s TRIO College Access Services Office is strengthening its efforts to help Aroostook County middle and high school age students prepare for and enroll in college—and succeed once they get there—thanks to a $1.2 million competitive grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education.

The funds, $240,000 per year for the next five years, will support the office’s Educational Talent Search Program and allow it to provide services to about 500 students each year in grades 6-12 in 12 target school districts in Aroostook County.

“The goal of the program is to help students succeed in higher education, and we are so delighted to have received this crucial funding so we can provide local students with an excellent support system as they work to achieve their educational goals,” Darylen Cote, TRIO College Access Services Director at UMPI, said.

TRIO Talent Search offers academic, career, and financial education and counseling to students and families to facilitate high school graduation and continuation on to postsecondary education, with the goal of earning college degrees. Additional services such as tutoring, college visits, assistance with college, scholarship and financial aid applications, college entrance test preparation and numerous other services are all meant to address specific barriers to college.

At least two-thirds of students enrolled in TRIO Educational Talent Search have parents who did not complete a 4-year, Bachelor’s degree program and who meet family income guidelines. Another one-third qualify for many reasons, including specific academic needs.

Results have shown that the impact of these services—especially over time from grade 6 through grade 12—is staggering. Students whose parents graduated from college with a 4-year degree attend and graduate at a rate of 80%. Students in the demographic that is served by Talent Search, whose parents did not graduate with a 4-year degree or meet income guidelines, attend and graduate at a rate of 8-10%. When students in the demographic receive TRIO Talent Search services, the percentage increases dramatically to about 75%.

“The jobs of the future will increasingly require some form of higher education,” Cote said. “In addition, study beyond high school is linked closely with higher salary levels, and steadier employment, even in a recession. Knowing those facts doesn’t mean that getting there and actually earning a postsecondary degree is easy. Almost all families can use a helping hand now and then to make sure those educational goals become a reality. That’s what TRIO College Access services is all about.”

According to a source within the U.S. Department of Education, the Department received 880 grant applications. Of those, only 459 have been funded, with two going to Maine schools: the University of Maine at Presque Isle and the University of Maine flagship campus in Orono.

TRIO College Access Services is now accepting applications for enrollment in both Educational Talent Search and Upward Bound. Call 207-768-9414 or toll free at 800-734-3636 for further information or an application today.