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ECC and MCC receive new TRIO grants

Ellsworth Community College and Marshalltown Community College have been notified that they will receive new U.S. Department of Education TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) grants in the amounts of $1.1 million and $726,750 (respectively) over the next five years. The TRIO SSS grants fund opportunities for student academic development and serve to assist and motivate students toward the successful completion of their college educations.

“The goal of the TRIO SSS program is to increase college retention and graduation rates of qualified participants and to help students make the transition from one level of higher education to the next,” explains Cindy Schulte, IVCCD Director of Governmental Affairs. TRIO SSS services are available to qualified low-income, first-generation or disabled college students to foster an institutional climate supportive of their success.

Tracie Self, ECC Director of Student Support Services/TRIO Director, and Nate Chua, MCC Director of Retention and Learning Services/TRIO SSS Director, crafted the narratives that were submitted for the TRIO SSS grant funding. The two colleges’ previous five-year TRIO SSS awards were for $300,000 and $750,000, respectively.

Self reports, “As we reviewed the ECC data, we determined at the conclusion of the previous grant that we had achieved significant success with the population of TRIO students we served. During the past two years ECC either met or exceeded each point of our original grant criteria. It also became evident that ECC could serve substantially more students who meet the inclusion criteria for TRIO. Our new grant proposal calls for increasing our number of ECC students served from 40 to 140, which we believe is both ambitious and attainable. The increased TRIO grant dollars will enable us to hire two more staff members at ECC, as well as increasing the number of TRIO scholarships we award.”

Chua adds, “The success of the MCC project over the last cycle really solidified our desire to apply for a new grant award. While our outstanding staff will continue to provide the programs and services that resulted in strong retention, graduation, and transfer rates, this new grant cycle allows us to further challenge students and push them to even greater heights. These last five years have proven that TRIO works, and we take great pride in the accomplishments of all of our TRIO participants and alumni.”

At both colleges, the improved educational outcomes for TRIO SSS participants will include persisting from year to year, remaining in good academic standing, graduating, and transferring to colleges or universities that offer baccalaureate degree programs. The two colleges will continue to address TRIO participant barriers to success, which include difficulty working through formal processes, lack of study and/or critical thinking skills, and reluctance to ask for assistance from instructors, staff or peers.

ECC and MCC TRIO SSS staff members will work with qualified students by providing assistance in filling out financial aid forms, developing course schedules, providing supplemental or developmental instruction as needed, involving them in peer study groups, offering financial literacy workshops, providing transfer counseling, providing online tutoring, providing opportunities for cultural engagement to enhance learning outside the classroom, and addressing other needs as appropriate.

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