116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
As Iowans face new obstacles to their higher education pursuits, given today’s pandemic-plagued environment and economy, Kirkwood Community College on Monday announced it has landed more than $2.5 million in federal support to help disadvantaged students earn a degree.
Via grants from the U.S. Department of Education for two programs, Kirkwood aims to help 1,350 students annually for five years through the funding. Both grants are under the umbrella of TRIO, a federal initiative of eight programs aimed to help low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and those with disabilities through the “academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.”
The larger of the two new grants Kirkwood has landed amounts to $1.4 million over five years for the TRIO “Talent Search Program.” That initiative identifies and helps middle and high school students from disadvantaged backgrounds who show “potential to succeed in higher education.”
Kirkwood — boasting more than 18,000 college-credit students — is among two Iowa colleges that administer the program, which uses academic, career and financial counseling to encourage students to graduate from high school and complete postsecondary education.
The second grant for nearly $1.2 million over five years supports Kirkwood’s implementation of the TRIO “Educational Opportunity Centers” program that aims to boost the number of adults who enroll in postsecondary institutions. Its services include student advising, tutoring, mentoring, test preparation, financial and economic literacy education, and other aid.
“In both cases, program activities are designed for students with limited English proficiency, students with disabilities, homeless students, or those who are from traditionally underrepresented groups in postsecondary education,” according to a Kirkwood news release.
The news comes as Iowa campuses are reporting more non-traditional students — including adult learners — and as Iowa continues to pursue a goal of getting 70 percent of its workforce some of higher education by 2025.
Since last fall, Kirkwood has landed nearly $5 million from the U.S. Department of Education, which in September 2020 awarded the community college $2.4 million for TRIO’s “English as a Second Language” program and “Student Support Services” program.
Kirkwood had to apply for the grants and compete with other colleges to secure them.
“This funding will give us an amazing opportunity to have a huge impact in working with students from our area that need it the most,” Kirkwood President Lori Sundberg said in a statement. “We can help those from underrepresented populations such as low-income learners, those with a disability and first-generation students. This is the type of support that literally changes people’s lives.”
Kirkwood has been hosting federal TRIO programs for more than 30 years in hopes of “increasing retention and successful academic completion among disadvantaged students.”
To be eligible for TRIO services, students must be low-income, have a physical or mental disability, or be a first-generation college student.
All students are eligible for federal financial aid, generally, and Kirkwood offers more than $3 million in scholarships annually.
Vanessa Miller covers higher education for The Gazette.
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