CMC gets $2.55 million in grants to expand student support services
Special to the Post Independent
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Between working at a Basalt coffee shop and caring for her five children, Carbondale mother Mika Watson has taken classes toward her associate degree gradually for four years. Last year, however, was tougher than usual as she was going through a divorce and needed extra support to stay in college.
“I was wanting to stay in school, and then all of that came up. I was stressing out,” Watson said. “I thought, ‘How can I get through this?'”
With help from the Success Center at Colorado Mountain College, Watson was able to stay in classes and continue working toward a degree in graphic design. The federally supported program at the college has assisted students for the past 14 years at three residential campuses in Glenwood Springs-Spring Valley, Steamboat Springs and Leadville. Students eligible for the program are low income, have disabilities or are known as “first generation,” the first in their families to attend college.
College administrators recently learned that their efforts to earn a highly competitive federal Student Support Services grant were successful with the announcement of two awards totaling $2.55 million across five years. Student Support Services is one of eight TRIO programs under the U.S. Department of Education. Other TRIO programs are Educational Opportunity Center, Educational Talent Search, Ronald C. McNair Post Baccalaureate Scholars, Upward Bound, Math-Science Upward Bound and Veterans Upward Bound.
Almost $1.5 million of the grant funds will be used to continue current support services for 160 students at the three residential campuses.
What’s new is the $1.1 million grant that allows the college to expand the services and support staff to assist 140 students at commuter campuses in Edwards and Rifle.
For Spring Valley student Watson, 38, those services have included time management workshops, individual tutoring, assistance with scholarship applications, resource referrals and mixers to meet other “nontraditional” students, who are older than the typical 18- to 21-year-old college student. She added that the advisors on campus always provide a supportive ear.
“They check in on you as somebody who really cares about you,” Watson said.
Mark McCabe, Ed.D., Colorado Mountain College’s assistant vice president for student affairs, said the combined SSS grant is one of the largest the college has ever received. That’s particularly important during the current challenging economic times, when student need is higher and the college faces possible reductions in funding over the next several years.
“This $2.55 million over five years helps to provide these critical support services,” McCabe said. “The program gives our students additional support, an extra person to be a success coach for them. That is just huge for our communities.”
Laurie Marano, Success Center director, who’s based at the college’s campus in Steamboat Springs, said the program has been very successful in surpassing the federal grant goals for helping students remain in college, stay in good academic standing, and graduate or transfer to a four-year college or university.
“Our persistence and good academic standing rates are really excellent when you consider that these students are coming from a group that is generally at risk from dropping out,” Marano said. “Data at residential campuses show that our students in this program succeed at a much higher rate than our average students at CMC. To exceed the college rates is an example of how much they benefit from the program.”
Student Watson hopes to finish her graphic design degree next year. She said the extra support through the college “made me feel a lot better about being there.”
More information about the Success Center and an application for students interested in the assistance program is available at http://colomtn.me/sscntr.
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