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May 09, 2013

College Access Challenge Grants Motivate Missourians to Attend College

Jefferson City - More than 2,500 students from a 14-county region in central Missouri get motivation and guidance from the combined College Fair and Career Day held at State Fair Community College each year during the last week of September.

The event is made possible through a $100,000 College Access Challenge Grant administered by the Missouri Department of Higher Education.

Pat Gillman is director of College and Career Readiness at State Fair. She said the grant enables area high schools to participate in the fair by underwriting the cost of transportation. "Superintendents told us 'no way can we come' when the first economic crunch hit," Gillman said. "The cost of buses and lunches for the students was prohibitive."

Gillman saw the grant as a resource to help continue the successful program. "When I asked for letters of support from superintendents, I expected a handful would respond," she said. Instead, she got 41 endorsements.

The morning of the fair offers students a chance to get acquainted with colleges and universities in the state. The afternoon brings together businesses and industries to show off employment opportunities and the academic preparation required for them.

The fair is one of a three-pronged approach State Fair uses to motivate students to attend college. A program aimed at middle schoolers explains the academic requirements that are needed, and financial aid advisers help high school students understand their options to pay for college.

"The academic program for middle school students is a wake-up call," Gillman said. "It is amazing what a little preparation can do to raise test scores."

The financial aid advisers work with high school counselors and provide help with the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to high school students and adults who want to return to school.

This will be the third year that State Fair has received a College Access Challenge Grant. Gillman said FAFSA filings have risen in every district as a result of grant activities. State Fair partners with Central Methodist University on the grant activities.

College Access Challenge Grants were created by Congress in 2007 to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. This year the Missouri Department of Higher Education awarded more than $1.6 million in federal funds to 21 groups to reach underserved students.

Other grant recipients are:

College Bound St. Louis ($100,000-St. Louis)

College Bound provides weekly classes on "college knowledge" ranging from admission requirements, types of postsecondary schools, developing study skills, college application completion, scholarship research, essay writing, career exploration, financial literacy and standardized test preparation.

College Summit ($100,000-St. Louis)

College Summit provides a comprehensive college access and preparation program to 15 partner schools in the St. Louis area as they continue building a systemic college-going culture.

De La Salle Middle School ($99,964-St. Louis)

De La Salle Middle School will provide effective information to students and families, beginning in middle school, on postsecondary education benefits, opportunities and planning as well as career preparation.

Drury University ($58,506-Springfield)

Drury University, in close partnership with the Springfield Public Schools, conducts the Drury Scholars Program, which is a yearlong mentoring and tutoring initiative.

Harris-Stowe State University ($51,161-St. Louis)

The 2013-2014 HSSU Financial Awareness Outreach Program will serve area low-income middle and high school students as well as parents, non-traditional students and continuing education students.

Infinite Scholars Program of Missouri ($93,853-St. Louis)

The Infinite Scholars Program provides a combination of comprehensive college access activities and career opportunity awareness activities to students and their families.

Metropolitan Community College and the Career Education Consortium ($71,734-Kansas City)

College Access Challenge Grant funds will be used for the FAST Project (Finding Academic Success in Transitions) which serves six geographically diverse school districts in the metropolitan Kansas City area.

Missouri College Advising Corps ($100,000-University of Missouri- Columbia)

The Missouri College Advising Corps (MCAC) program provides college access support and activities to 26 partner high schools in the state. 

Missouri Council on Economic Education ($18,090-Kansas City)

The Missouri Council on Economic Education will create an iBook textbook called: "How to Pay for College."

Missouri Southern State University ($30,000-Joplin)

Missouri Southern State University will develop a "Major, Minor, and Career Preparation Academy" to assist students in exploring and selecting appropriate major, minor and career paths.

Missouri State University- West Plains ($100,000-West Plains)

College Access Challenge Grant funds will be used to support and sustain "Project Threshold" which serves Howell, Oregon, Shannon, Texas, Wright, Douglas, Ozark, Carter, Reynolds and Wayne counties in south-central Missouri.

St. Charles Community College ($99,926-Cottleville)

St. Charles Community College will implement the "BE READY" Project with middle and high school students in St. Charles, Lincoln, Montgomery, Pike and Warren counties.

St. Louis Internship Program ($45,668-St. Louis)

St. Louis Internship Program provides college access outreach to students in all 25 St. Louis City public, charter, parochial and private high schools.

Southeast Missouri State University ($100,000-Cape Girardeau)

Southeast Missouri State University will lead the "PLAN FOR COLLEGE" initiative which provides a prescribed set of college planning and preparatory services to 44 public high schools in a 10-county region in southeast Missouri.

The Community Partnership ($32,318-Rolla)

The Community Partnership will help at-risk youth, specifically youth in foster care and teen parents, obtain information, resources, support and opportunities related to post-secondary education.

The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis ($85,000-St. Louis)

College Access Challenge Grant funds will be used for the foundation's "Student Advocate and Advising Program."

The University of Missouri- Columbia 4-H Extension ($100,000-Columbia)

The University of Missouri Extension 4-H Center for youth development makes college an obtainable goal for high school youth who are not otherwise encouraged to attend college. 

The University of Missouri- Kansas City ($84,500-Kansas City)

College Access Challenge Grant funds will assist with a collaborative college and career preparatory program among several key units at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Truman State University ($38,120-Kirksville)

Truman State University's BULLDOG (Building Up Lives; Lending Direction and Optimism for Going) Program will foster collaboration with area high schools in northeast Missouri.

Wyman Center, Inc. ($99,994-Eureka)

Wyman provides college access through its Wyman Prep program in a progressive manner from middle school through high school for teens in need.