ECC awarded grant to help prepare younger students for college

Updated 8/2/2016 5:00 PM

Elgin Community College has been awarded nearly $1.2 million in federal funding to help low-income, minority, and first-generation immigrant students in middle and high schools graduate and continue postsecondary education.

The college will receive $239,538 yearly in funding, through the U.S. Department of Education's Talent Search Program, over five years. The money will fund services including academic, career and financial counseling for students.

This is the first year ECC has been awarded a Talent Search grant, which will benefit 500 students at Dundee-Crown, Elgin, Larkin and Streamwood high schools and their feeder middle schools. High schools were picked based on demographic requirements having a high number of first-generation, minority and low-income students.

The goal of the program is to increase career readiness and college attendance.

"It allows for more support and guidance for the students at an earlier age," said Elizabeth Roeger, ECC dean of developmental education and college transitions. "This will allow us to work with students and parents in those middle schools, as well as follow them through and support them through those high schools."

This is ECC's latest effort to prepare students early for success in college before they set foot on campus as freshmen.

"It is building on our Transition Academy program that we have been running for four years," Roeger said.

The Transition Academy is open to all high school students within the college's boundaries and caters to a similar demographic makeup as the Talent Search program.

"We take in 100 to 150 students yearly ... to help build their college knowledge," Roeger said. "We work with a curriculum that is built to create self-confidence, grit and a positive mindset."

ECC also receives funding to administer two other federal programs -- Upward Bound and Student Support Services -- that provide support for high school and college students.

Upward Bound provides first-generation and low-income students in ninth through 12th grades support services, such as tutoring, career and college exploration.

Student Support Services provides students already in college with tutoring and career guidance so they can transfer to a four-year institution or work toward obtaining technical certification.

With the Talent Search grant, ECC will offer a summer program for middle school students and additional support sessions for their parents throughout the year.

"We will be able to offer tutoring for the students beginning in middle school ... twice a week for 10 weeks each semester," Roeger said.

The program will be fully implemented in January.

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