Gateway receives $1.1 million to assist students

Gateway Community and Technical College received a federal grant providing over $1.1 million over a five-year period to serve students. With these funds, Gateway will provide support services that motivate and provide tools for success for students from disadvantaged backgrounds as they pursue a college degree.

The U.S. Department of Education Student Support Services (SSS) Program grant will serve Gateways growing population of low-income, first-generation college students and students with disabilities who are academically under-prepared for college. Currently, over 3,000 Gateway students are SSS eligible.

Gateway is committed to serving students who need extra support matriculating through college. This program is so important because it provides one-on-one support to our most at-risk students, said Ingrid Washington, Gateway vice president for student development. We are thrilled our efforts were recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, for the third time, as effective in providing our students with services that help them succeed.

Project ASPIRE, the name of the SSS program at Gateway, will increase the academic performance, retention, graduation and transfer rates for students. Student success will be achieved through academic tutoring and assistance with course selection, financial aid and scholarships, financial and economic literacy and transferring to a four-year institution. Students who qualify for this program will also receive peer support, individualized counseling for personal, academic and career matters, and exposure to cultural events and academic programs not usually available to disadvantaged students.

Gateway has successfully received Student Support Services (SSS) Program grant funding since 2005. In 2015, Gateway was one of only 968 institutions of higher education across the United States who received this funding.

SSS is one of seven federal TRIO programs that provide outreach and student services for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, including low income individuals, first-generation college students, individuals with disabilities, foster care youth or homeless children, to help them progress from secondary education to post baccalaureate programs.

The TRIO programs were the first national college access and retention programs to address the serious social and cultural barriers to education in America. (Previously only college financing had been on policymakers' radar.) TRIO began as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty. The Educational Opportunity Act of 1964 established an experimental program known as Upward Bound. Then, in 1965, the Higher Education Act created Talent Search. Finally, another program, Special Services for Disadvantaged Students (later known as Student Support Services), was launched in 1968. Together, this trio of federally-funded programs encouraged access to higher education for low-income students.