NIC's TRIO program grant renewed

| September 3, 2020 1:00 AM

North Idaho College’s TRIO-Student Support Services program, which assists first-generation college students, students with disabilities, or those from low-income families, has received a five-year, federal grant renewal of $1.47 million.

This is the fifth time since 2001 that federal grant funding has been renewed for the NIC TRIO program, which serves 160 students each year.

“We are thrilled to receive funding for another five years,” said Holly Edwards, NIC TRIO-SSS program director. “Our students come to us with many challenges and barriers to success in college. They also come to us with grit, determination, and passion. “In a time of so much uncertainty, I find great hope in the TRIO program and in the students we serve.”

The goal of TRIO—SSS programs is to increase persistence and graduation rates, facilitate the transfer from two-year to four-year colleges, and foster an institutional climate that promotes the success of underserved and underrepresented students.

Corey Morrison, a student who received his associate degree at NIC in 2020 and is now enrolled at the University of Idaho, said the NIC TRIO program has provided him with unlimited resources that have helped him achieve his educational goals in pursuit of a degree in elementary education. 

“This would not have happened without the unbelievable help from the entire team at the TRIO office. I would be remiss if I did not mention my advisor, who has helped guide me through my first year back at college after 25 years away from school, and the TRIO staff who went out of their way to find me a wheelchair when mine was breaking down,” Morrison said. “This is a great program, and without it many students would lose their way and never complete a college degree.”

TRIO-SSS at NIC employs a holistic and strengths-based approach to serving students. The program offers various personal and academic supports such as tutoring, advising, peer mentoring, help in adjusting to college, financial literacy, and academic skill-building. NIC TRIO helps students connect with community resources such as housing and food insecurity resources, educational funding, and referrals to health and wellness resources. All services are free of charge. 

In the 2019-2020 academic year, 83 percent of SSS students remained in college or graduated with their associate degree. That’s almost 50 percent higher than the national average. At NIC in 2019, 59 percent of TRIO-SSS participants graduated within four years, which is also 50 percent higher than the national average. When NIC TRIO students complete end-of-year program evaluations, many say they would never have finished their degrees without the support they received from TRIO.

Raina Sprouse, a social work and public policy student, said the most significant benefit she received from TRIO was having someone help her narrow down her major and transfer options, and determine how her major would fit inter her career goals. 

“They also coached me through the scholarship process, and I received several scholarships for this year,” Sprouse said. “Having my advisor as a mentor has made it much easier. She created a sense of confidence in me. Now I know these are things I can do on my own, and having the help and support of TRIO got me to believe in myself.”                               

TRIO programs were the first national college access and retention programs to address the serious social and cultural barriers to education in America. TRIO began in the 1960s as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson's War on Poverty. At that time, the Federal Pell Grant was created and lawmakers knew they had to do more than just help pay for college. They believed that students, particularly those who are low-income and first-generation or traditionally underrepresented in college, needed academic and personal support in addition to financial resources to be successful in college.

“It’s a wonderful example of a program that has positive impacts on a large scale, from the ongoing bipartisan support in congress for continued funding, to the institutional support from NIC, to the dedicated and hard-working TRIO staff, to the students who will stop at nothing to earn their education, everyone is playing a part,” Edwards said. “And when students earn their education, they not only change their own lives, they also change the course of their families’ lives and, moreover, positively impact our community.” 

This project was funded to North Idaho College by the U.S. Department of Education under award P042A200236. The total project funding is $1,473,625 of which 100 percent is the federal share.