Texarkana College received renewal notice from the U.S. Department of Education for the TRIO Talent Search Grant amounting to $1,526,400 to be used over the next five years.
The Grant provides staff and services to provide college preparation support for lower-income junior high and high school students who are often the first in their family to attend college, area youth with disabilities, students who are homeless, and students who are in, or are aging out of the foster care system.
Through the program, educational specialists assist students with applications for college admission and funding sources including federal financial aid (FAFSA). Academic support is also available to assist participants with completion of rigorous programs of study including dual credit courses. In addition, participants can take career aptitude assessments, learn more about mastering college entrance exams, and participate in field trips to visit near-by colleges and universities.
Dr Tonja Mackey, Director of TC’s Library and federal TRIO programs, said that each year students load charter buses and visit campuses including Texas A&M University- Texarkana, University of North Texas, University of Central Arkansas, and University of Arkansas, among others. They also work in stops at nearby points of interest.
“Any time we plan a college visit, we also try to add a cultural or educational event,” Mackey said. “We have taken students to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas, Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, and the Dallas Aquarium to name a few.”
While the Educational Specialists meet with students and provide programming year-round, the summer program is dynamic. For the new grant cycle, a mentoring program will be implemented to address students who experience the “summer melt.”
“These students recently graduated from high school intending to go to college, and are possibly even enrolled. However, they never make it to that first day of class,” Mackey said. “By summer 2017, we will have a mentoring program in place to work specifically with those graduates.”
TC has participated in the federally-funded Talent Search program for over twenty years and has provided college-ready services to thousands of area students. The new contract provides funds for more than 600 students annually.