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Lawson State Community College is excited to announce the re-funding for three of its federal TRiO Programs totaling $5.6 million over the next five years. The three programs: Classic Upward Bound, Student Support Services—Bessemer, and Student Support Services—Birmingham will each receive just over $1.5 million dollars annually. 

TRiO Programs (TRiO) are federal outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. Specifically, Student Support Services aims to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs. Upward Bound provides fundamental support to participants in their preparation for college entrance. The program provides opportunities for participants to succeed in their pre-college performance and ultimately in their higher education pursuits. 

“We are so grateful for the successful re-funding of the Lawson State Upward Bound program,” Mattie Crawford, director of Upward Bound stated. She added, “This means we can continue providing essential services to our high school participants who are in need of personal and academic counseling, tutoring, scholarship assistance, and many other services we provide to ensure their successful transition into college life.”

“As part of the TRiO Student Support Services program on the Bessemer Campus, I have had the opportunity to witness our students’ incredible journeys, as they overcome obstacles in their pursuit of a post-secondary education,” stated LaSharron Y. Harris, director of Student Support Services-Bessemer campus, further expressing, “Their drive and determination to successfully complete their associate’s degree—with some even reaching far beyond a bachelor’s degree to successfully complete doctoral programs, has been my greatest joy.”

The programs are funded on five-year cycles; however, re-funding of existing programs is not automatic. Programs must re-apply through a competitive grant-writing process against existing programs and new grant applicants. Successfully re-funded programs must demonstrate need among their student populations, as well as the effectiveness and impact of the program on the overall retention, persistence, and graduation rates of the institution.

“TRiO, Student Support Services recognize that education is the primary driving force for equal access and full participation in our society. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused undue financial hardship, especially for students who fall into the demographics of low income, first generation and students with disabilities,” said LaTasha Nix, director of Student Support Services-Birmingham campus.  “Our goal is to champion behind these students, ensuring they make it to the finish line. We are moving full force ahead and are looking forward to cheerleading another cohort of students,” she continued. 

Currently, Lawson State’s TRiO programs serve close to 500 participants. Students who believe they qualify to participate in TRiO programs must be enrolled or accepted for a program of post-secondary education at Lawson State Community College. Students eligible for PELL grants, first-generation college students or students with disabilities showing academic need are eligible to participate in Student Support Services.