$100,000 SEMO grant to help Cape students prepare for college

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Southeast Missouri State University was awarded a $100,000 grant to work with the Cape Girardeau School District to help prepare students for life after high school.

The College Access Grant, awarded last week by the Missouri Department of Higher Education, will fund college-preparation programs for students in all grades. The grant, however, will target intervention efforts to students in ninth and 10th grades, said Vida Mays, director of precollegiate programs at Southeast.

"They come into the ninth and 10th grade, we want to make sure they have a vision for what they want to do when they graduate high school," she said. She said the program will help first-generation college students and students from low-income families plan for higher education.

The grant money will be available for the upcoming school year with the possibility of renewal for next year, she said.

Central High School principal Dr. Mike Cowan said the program will be incorporated into the Preparing for Academic Success classes, which are required for freshman students. Subjects include financial literacy as it relates to paying for college and developing communication skills. Cowan said the school was already planning to include guidance concepts with the classes.

The university and school district will work together to hire a coordinator to work with high school students on post-graduation plans three days a week, Cowan said.

"The focus is to serve all the kids, but there are some kids who need more encouragement than others," he said.

Deena Ring, the district's director of special services, said the additional programming will help the district graduation rate, one of the initial goals of the grant.

"I think it goes hand in hand because for children to remain invested in their education they have to have a goal," she said. "This provides opportunities for them to have those."

Mays said the school is eligible for the grant through its free and reduced-price lunch count, which is 54.3 percent districtwide. She said the university administers similar programs at schools in Caruthersville and Hayti, Mo.

The grant will fund a group trip for about 200 low-income, first-generation college students in ninth and 10th grades to visit colleges and stay in dorms during the summer. Other programs will be available to students from lower grades and their families, including evening presentations on college awareness.

"You can't do everything, but we can give other students who are not in that target group something," Mays said.

abusch@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

One University Plaza Cape Girardeau, MO

301 N. Clark Ave., Cape Girardeau, M

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