April 9, 2012

This year the Missouri Department of Higher Education awarded $1.5 million in federal funds to 17 groups to reach underserved students.

Jefferson City - Every student deserves an education, believes Jerod Morey, executive director of the non-profit organization, About Our Kids, Inc., based in Lamar, Mo.

"Education takes you places you could never go without it," says Morey. "It is important because it stays with you forever, and no one can take it away."

This week the Missouri Department of Higher Education awarded Morey and his group a $100,000 College Access Challenge Grant to apply his philosophy in a two-county area hard hit by unemployment and the recession.

The historic mining areas of Vernon and Barton counties have lost 5,300 jobs since 2007. The child poverty rate is 42 percent, almost twice as high as the state average.

Students struggle economically and academically. Almost two-thirds of the students in the school districts targeted by About Our Kids failed to meet the state standard in reading; more than half did not meet the standards for math.

Morey says students in these situations need targeted interventions to put them on a path to completing high school and embarking on postsecondary education. With funds from the grant, About Our Kids will launch the Higher Education Access Route for Teens - HEART - to provide academic enrichment to 250 students.

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 $1.5 million in federal funds to 17 groups to reach underserved students.

Other grant recipients are:

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

College Access Challenge Grant funds will assist College Bound with implementing a seven-year action plan for low-income, first-generation students and families.


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

College Summit builds the capacity of partner high schools to help transition students to college.


De La Salle Middle School - St. Louis -- $99,902

De La Salle Middle School will provide effective information to students and families on postsecondary education benefits, opportunities, planning and career preparation.


Drury University-Springfield -- $84,511

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


Full Employment Council, Inc.-Kansas City -- $100,000

Full Employment Council, Inc. will provide career awareness, counseling, planning, financial literacy training, financial aid assistance and mentoring to 16- to 24-year-olds who are economically disadvantaged and underrepresented.


Infinite Scholars Program of Missouri - St. Louis -- $93,920

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


Missouri College Advising Corps - Columbia -- $100,000

The Missouri College Advising Corps will provide "near-peer advisers" to high school students in Potosi, Salem, St. Clair, St. James and Sullivan to help them plan and prepare for college.


Missouri State University - Springfield -- $100,000

Missouri State University will serve underrepresented students through the Missouri Innovation Academy, a program to foster sound financial and business practices, creativity, science, technology and career awareness.


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

College Access Challenge Grant funds will be used to support and sustain Project Threshold, a program created to reach middle and high school students with information and resources for college preparation.


Northside Community Center - St. Louis -- $92,061

Northside Community Center will partner with Washington University to provide college information, assistance, guidance and support for Beaumont High School and Confluence Preparatory Academy students.


St. Charles Community College - St. Charles -- $98,675

St. Charles Community College will implement the PATH Project to target at-risk and/or underserved students in the areas of St. Charles, Lincoln, Montgomery, Pike and Warren counties.


St. Louis Internship Program - St. Louis -- $42,116

St. Louis Internship Program helps at-risk students connect academics to the world of work, envision a future, complete high school and prepare for postsecondary education.


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

Southeast Missouri State University will provide college planning and financial literacy training for K-12 students, families, and staff in the Cape Girardeau Public School District.


State Fair Community College - Sedalia -- $100,000

State Fair Community College will use College Access Challenge Grant funds for their A.C.E Program -- Advantages of College Education -- to increase the number of underserved Missourians in their 14-county service area.


Truman State University - Kirksville -- $37,120

Truman State's BULLDOG Program will partner with 10 area high schools in northeast Missouri to provide outreach related to financial literacy, ACT prep, and assistance in completing the FAFSA.


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

The University of Missouri Extension 4-H Center for youth development will make college an obtainable goal for high school youth in St. Louis, Kansas City and southeast Missouri.


Wyman Center, Inc. - St. Louis -- $99,959

Wyman Center, Inc. implements programs that inspire and enable teens from economically disadvantaged circumstances to develop the confidence and skills they need to achieve a lifetime of success.