For Release:
July 1, 2010

Contact: Kathy Love — 573.522.1463

Jefferson City – When 23-year-old Alex Withrow tells Salem High School students how to prepare for college, they take note. Withrow is a first-generation college graduate who works for the Missouri College Advising Corps. In June, the corps received a $100,000 College Access Challenge Grant to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in college.

The corps sends 14 advisers who are recent MU college graduates into partner high schools to conduct workshops and work one-on-one with students. This August, Withrow will conduct a pilot College Academy for 12 Salem students to learn how to select a college, prepare for the ACT and SAT, obtain financial aid and “wow” interview committees.

Tim Hopkins, who administers the College Access Challenge Grant for the Missouri Department of Higher Education, says the corps’ successful track record helped earn the grant. “They currently have 14 high school partners in St. Louis, Kansas City and south central Missouri, and helped 831 students apply for college,” Hopkins says. “Their students received more than $2.7 million in scholarships.”

Beth Tankersley-Bankhead, who directs the corps, says the grant enabled them to add Salem and Grandview as partner high schools, reaching an additional 1,710 rural and urban students. “Many students simply don’t have enough information, or they believe college is out of reach for them,” said Tankersley-Bankhead. “Having a ‘near-peer’ college adviser right in their high school to help them navigate college preparation provides a role model and expands their horizons.”

Other College Access Challenge Grant recipients are:

College Bound, a data-driven high school-to-college transition and post-secondary retention program that assists low-income, first –generation students persist in college toward degree completion. College Bound provides a rigorous seven-year action plan that is comprised of three programs that focus on early awareness, college admission and college retention.

College Summit partners with 14 high schools in the St. Louis metropolitan area. In each partner school, College Summit builds a college-going culture by training teachers to “manage” every senior’s individual path by utilizing College Summit’s Navigator curriculum and online Resource Center. College Summit uses the Navigator software to measure, manage, and report progress so principals, school district leadership and high school educators can recognize challenges early on and take proactive measures to ensure optimal student outcomes.

De La Salle Middle School Graduate Support Program begins in middle school, creating a college-bound culture for its students and their families. Students participate in college exposure trips, college/career readiness and goal setting classes, financial aid application awareness, annual College Day, savings account program and financial literacy classes.

Infinite Scholars Program targets disadvantaged students in the St. Louis, Kansas City, and Park Hills regions. Infinite Scholars provides comprehensive early college access, financial aid workshops, Scholarship Fairs, mentoring and career opportunity awareness activities to students and their families.

Missouri State University – West Plains (MSU-WP) has developed a program entitled Project Threshold to address CACG needs in the MSU-WP service region. The project consists of eleven components that address career awareness, FAFSA completion, mentorship, ACT preparation, financial literacy, debt avoidance and college retention.

Northside Community Center (NCC) serves college bound students beginning their freshmen year through the second year of college enrollment. The program provides three four-week SAT, ACT and FAFSA completion workshops and partners with The Center for the Study of Regional Competitiveness in Science and Technology and the Department of Education at Washington University in St. Louis.

The Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis conducts a variety of programs that assist students in 12 high schools in the City of St. Louis and inner ring suburbs. Scholarship Foundation Student Advocates are trained to advise high school students and families on the complex financial aid process, provide intensive instruction in FAFSA completion, college retention, financial literacy and debt management and avoidance.

Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) develops sustainable, targeted college planning and financial literacy training for K-12 students and families in the Cape Girardeau Public School District. SEMO is partnering with Cape Girardeau Public Schools to assist in the reduction of the dropout rate and increasing the college attendance rate of low-income students.

St. Louis Internship Program (SLIP) provides eight-week paid summer internships in professional settings combined with a guided application process, work readiness training, and year-round educational and college access planning activities. SLIP interns receive ACT prep from the Princeton Review and college field experiences.

 Wyman Center works within its existing program structure to provide financial literacy, advising high school seniors and their parents/families on how to prepare for college admission and entrance exams, career awareness, college immersion, outreach, and FAFSA completion workshops.

For additional information regarding the CACG, please contact MDHE Research Associate Timothy Hopkins at (573) 522-2384 or [email protected].