Avila’s Classic and Achieve Upward Bound TRIO programs were renewed for five more years. “TRIO is a set of federally-funded college opportunity programs that motivate and support students from disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue a college degree. More than 800,000 low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities — from sixth grade through college graduation — are served by over 3,100 programs nationally” (Council for Opportunity in Education).
“TRIO is more than just education – it is a very holistic approach to helping students. We can do so much more than just instruct students. We watch them grow over the years,” said Director of TRIO Programs, Anna McDonald.
Avila has three TRIO programs – Classic Upward Bound, Upward Bound Achieve, and Student Support Services (SSS).
What is the difference between the TRIO programs that we offer?
Classic Upward Bound was awarded to Avila University in 1995 – so it has been on campus the longest. This pre-college program works with Ruskin and Grandview High School. Next, in 2015, we were awarded Student Support Services, and this program works with Avila University college students. In 2017, we were awarded Upward Bound Achieve, another pre-college program that works with Northeast and Central High Schools.
We must demonstrate a need in the high schools and have an agreement in place. We need access to the student’s academic records and their space for various workshops/tutoring. While we can use Avila, it is much easier to work with the students in their schools rather than transporting them to campus.
The primary difference is the target demographic. We work with pre-college and college students. The goals/objectives for the pre-college programs are the same. We work with students in high school to ensure they are successful in transitioning to a college of their choice (we do not recruit for Avila) and are academically and socially prepared. We provide free tutoring, ACT prep, workshops, college visits, cultural experiences, etc.
For SSS (our college students), we want to retain them and see them graduate from Avila within six years (our goal is four years). We provide various services to ensure the success of our students. This includes academic workshops, cultural/social programs, advising, grant aid, etc.
What is the difference between the two Upward Bound programs?
Just the high schools we work with. They have different budgets due to the longevity of the program at Avila and the number of students they serve, but the services and objectives are the same.
What process does Avila go through to continue to receive funding/maintain eligibility?
The Department of Education completely funds TRIO grants, and we write to receive the grants again every five years. We are on different funding schedules, so UB was just renewed for five years, but SSS is currently in year two of its five-year cycle.
Each year, I submit an Annual Performance Report that shows our objectives and if we met them. This gives us prior experience points, which are added to our grant submission. Existing programs that continue to meet their objectives have an edge in being renewed. Our strong grants have continuously hit our objectives.
What aspect do you enjoy about working with TRIO?
So much! I have been at Avila for 11 years with TRIO and was with TRIO in Nebraska (Creighton and WNCC) before this. I love seeing students get accepted into their dream college, be awarded scholarships they never thought they would get, or do something for the first time (seeing the ocean, conquering a fear, etc.). Our alumni are doing amazing things. An Avila alumnus/TRIO Office Manager is now directing his very own UB at Missouri State and just wrote his first grant; two of my UB alumni who started dating in our program are getting married this summer and work for another UB program in the city, a UB alumnus is running various Boys and Girls Clubs in Kansas City, etc. It is just a lot of joy, and I could talk about it forever.