American River College was awarded three $1.1 million grants which will be used to benefit the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), Journey and Veterans Project programs on campus.
The money was awarded to the campus in July by the U.S. Department of Education through the Federal TRIO program. The TRIO program is designed to reach out to underprivileged students.
ARC is the only school in the Los Rios district to receive a TRIO grant.
ARC President Thomas Greene outlined how the money from the grants will be spent.
“It goes towards workshops, tutoring and counseling, field trips to four-year colleges and pays for the administrators of the program,” said Greene. “The students really receive a wrap-around service.”
The Journey program, which was established in 2010 following another federal grant, provides services and support for low income first-generation students who are seeking a degree or looking to transfer.
Betty Low, project director for the Journey program, described the work Journey does as a way for students to utilize the resources on campus so that they can be successful.
“We’ve spent the last five years identifying students, working with them one-on-one and pairing them with peer tutors,” said Low. “We really focus on incoming freshman students so we can prepare them for what college culture is like, what classes are like, and what professors expect.”
Jon Jordan, a student who went through the program and has now returned as a math tutor, compared Journey to the AVID program found at most high schools.
“Journey is my AVID,” said Jordan. “Without (Journey) I wouldn’t have knowledge about transferring or information about four year colleges like UC Davis and Sac State. Now, as a tutor, I’d be lost in the dark trying to help new students if it wasn’t for the program.”
Low is eager to put the money to good use and explore more options for the students in the program.
“The big push now that we’ve got the new grant and we’re good for the next five years is to ramp up and start doing new things,” said Low. “We get the opportunity to open the box and be like ‘look at this stuff’ and explore what it all means and what is actually an option for them.”
“It’s pretty cool,” Low added. “We get to be like a cheerleader on the sideline for these students as we watch them succeed.”
In the fall of 2014, ARC was in the process of reapplying for the the Journey program and, due to the success that Journey has experienced over the past five years, the Department of Education decided to write grants for the STEM and the Veterans Project programs as well.
Both programs will use the awards to support low-income and first-generation students. However, the STEM programs focus more on students who show an interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.
“It provides a resource for the other colleges in the district,” said Greene about the grants and what it means for the other community colleges in the district. “It strengthens our ability to collaborate and that goes both ways.”
ARC is in the process of planning a proposal for three new grants in the education talent search branch of the TRIO program for early next year.