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PCC Earns Federal Grant to Serve First-Generation Students
Photos and Story by James Hill
PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland Community College has received a five-year $950,000 "Talent Search"grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help 600 low-income, first-generation college students graduate from high school and go on to college. The Rock Creek Campus in Washington County will coordinate the grant and will set up outreach efforts to work on site at 10 different schools in the Beaverton and Forest Grove school districts in Washington County. The grant will serve five middle schools and five high schools in these two districts and work with students between the ages of 11 and 27. This first year, PCC received $190,000 to implement the program, set to begin Oct. 1 of 2002. In addition, the college received a one-time $10,000 technology stipend to purchase computers and provide staff training. Outreach efforts at the schools will begin winter term of 2003. In the targeted area of Washington County, where the project will be implemented, there are more than 9,300 low-income households. Moreover, in the past 10 years, Hispanic residents have tripled. Significantly, between 1990 and 2000, one in every two new students in the Beaverton and in Forest Grove schools was Hispanic. Studies have shown that Hispanic families in the target area are more likely to be poor and less educated, and Hispanic students are more likely to drop out of high school and less likely to enroll in college. "This is a wonderful opportunity for PCC to work closely with the local public schools to assist low-income and first-generation college bound students,"said Rock Creek Campus Executive Dean Bill Christopher. "Education in our community should be a continuum, starting in kindergarten and ending with college. This grant helps to promote that idea."The five-year grant will support a variety of activities. These include workshops that are bilingual on receiving financial aid and scholarships, preparing for the SAT, help for students who are re-entering college, visiting college campuses and cultural events, and workshops for middle school students and their parents on how students can succeed in high school. In addition, the program will offer a college survival course for high school seniors and an innovative mentoring program that calls on Talent Search graduates to mentor high school age participants. Other activities are designed to involve parents in students’ success, career exploration and planning, ESL and computer classes, and self-esteem classes to address and help stem the tide of teen pregnanciesThe Talent Search program has a goal of hiring bilingual staff with the hope of recruiting those with backgrounds that are similar to the Talent Search participants.