Increased funding for ECC programs to keep kids in school
By Emily McFarlan email@example.com July 8, 2012 9:04PM
Updated: August 10, 2012 6:17AM
ELGIN — They are programs that change students’ lives, according to DeSean E. Coleman, Sr., manager and assistant director of Upward Bound at Elgin Community College.
They are programs that help high school students stay in school, that make college “second nature” to them, Coleman said. Programs that share knowledge with those students about college entrance exams like the ACT and SAT, scholarships and financial aid — knowledge their parents may not be able to share.
And the U.S. Department of Education has increased funding for those TRIO programs at Elgin Community College, which include Upward Bound, Student Support Services and Student Support Services ESL.
“It’s important because it really is a major program nationally that helps disadvantaged students pursue higher education, pursue college. That is the goal,” said Bruce Austin, associate dean of the community college’s TRIO programs.
The Department of Education recently renewed Elgin Community College’s five-year grant for its Upward Bound program, increasing its funding to $1.5 million, according to the college. That will allow the program to accept 16 more students in the coming school year, for a total 72, Austin said.
TRIO “encourages and assists traditionally underrepresented students to succeed in college, graduate and move on to participate more fully in America’s economic and social life,” according to the college’s website.
Upward Bound does that through after-school tutoring, activities, workshops and advising for students in grades 9 to 12 who come from low-income families or whose parents did not attend college. It also offers participants classes through its five-week summer session, Austin said.
The new grant primarily will focus on students at Larkin and Elgin high schools in Elgin and Dundee-Crown High School in Carpentersville, according to Coleman.
Student Support Services and Student Support Services ESL offer many of the same academic supports to Elgin Community College students who come from low-income families or are the first in their families to attend college, he said. About 350 students participate in Student Support Services and 140 in the English as a Second Language program.
Those programs had received two five-year grants totaling $3.27 million in 2010 from the Department of Education.
That funding comes as money and TRIO programs are being slashed across the country, according to Austin.
Elgin Community College has kept its federal funding for those programs now for about 18 years. That’s because it follows federal regulations, meets its objectives each year, keeps in contact with federal officials and has staff who know the programs well and are able to write grants that articulate their success, he said.
And, Austin said, that’s because its programs are successful: About 95 percent of students complete Upward Bound, and 50 percent attend Elgin Community College.
“The majority of our students do just that — they finish the program. They continue and move on,” he said.
For more information about TRIO programs at Elgin Community College, or to apply, call 847-214-6959 or visit elgin.edu/students.aspx?id=686.