FRCC Awarded $2.6 Million to Help Underserved Students Succeed

Funds will support a new TRIO program at the college’s campus in Longmont, as well as the existing program in Westminster.

The U.S. Department of Education has selected Front Range Community College to receive two federal grants of $1.3 million each—to help more students succeed in and graduate from college.

The money will allow FRCC’s Boulder County Campus in Longmont to begin a brand new TRIO program. The funds will also be used to continue FRCC’s existing program at the college’s Westminster campus.

These five-year Student Support Services (SSS) grants will fund FRCC’s TRIO programs—which are designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. SSS grants help college students who:

• Come from low-income families,
• Are first generation—whose parents do not have a four-year college degree,
• Have disabilities.

“Having worked for and supervised TRIO programs at multiple institutions, I can definitively state that TRIO works,” said Vice President Elena Sandoval-Lucero. “I am so excited that students at FRCC’s Boulder County Campus will have the opportunity to participate in this extremely effective program.”

How TRIO Works
FRCC’s existing TRIO programs have proved to be highly effective at helping these students navigate—and succeed in—the complex and unfamiliar environment of higher education. FRCC’s Westminster campus offers TRIO Support Services for students who qualify—as well as the TRIO Upward Bound program for eligible students from Westminster High School.

In 2018-2019, 98% of the Westminster campus’ TRIO students completed the year in good academic standing. Before the program began in 2015, only 49% of TRIO-eligible students would return for another year of college. For students who used TRIO services in 2018-2019, that year-to-year persistence rate rose to 89%.

The grants will fund a comprehensive array of services to enhance academic success—making students more likely to graduate or transfer with the lowest possible debt. These services include:

• Academic tutoring
• Financial aid advice
• Career and college mentoring
• Help in choosing courses

New Program in Longmont
The new TRIO program at FRCC’s Boulder County campus is ready to hit the ground running this fall. The campus has just hired its first director of student support services—TRIO alumna Rebecca Chavez—who will oversee the TRIO offerings at the campus in Longmont. Chavez will transition to her new position after serving for 12 years as the campus’ director of admissions and outreach. “Rebecca’s unwavering commitment to first-generation, low-income and marginalized students make her a perfect fit for this position,” said Carla Stein, dean of student affairs.

Why TRIO Matters

“The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the systemic inequality and financial hardship which keep promising students from succeeding in college,” said Maureen Hoyler, president of the non-profit Council for Opportunity in Education in Washington, D.C. “Student Support Services programs are needed now more than ever.”

Impressive Alumni
Graduates of FRCC’s TRIO programs are in very good company around the country. Many Student Support Services alumni have gone on to great success over the years—among them Emmy, Tony and Academy-Award winning actress Viola Davis, U.S. Rep. Gwendolyn Moore of Wisconsin’s 4th District and Franklin Chang-Diaz, the first Hispanic astronaut.