Program Targets Younger Students for Higher Education

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The Mahoning Valley College Access Program encourages high school students in Warren, Youngstown, and Lisbon to think about higher education. Now, board members want to reach younger students by targeting middle and elementary school kids to get them thinking about college or a technical program.

Since 2001, when the Mahoning Valley College Access Program launched in Warren, advisers have helped more than 4,000 students. After having those one on one meetings, the majority ended up choosing higher education options like college or a trade program.

Board members and executive director Lita Wills are ready to take the program to the next step.

“What we’re doing is making sure that by starting earlier, we have more students coming in our doors at the ninth grade level, ready to accept what we have to give them,” said Wills.

Advisers are paid volunteers or are from AmeriCorps. They talk to students about everything from financial aid to admissions assistance.

Right now, the program primarily focuses on high schools students in both Youngstown and Warren City Schools, as well as the Columbiana County Career and Technical Center.

Those with MVCAP want to talk to younger students in those schools, while also reaching out to other communities.

“Expanding that footprint to rim suburban schools where the demographic lends well to our objective,” said board president Paul Dutton. “Campbell City Schools, Struthers, Niles, Girard, and some of the rural schools where the need is there.”

Wednesday night, board announced new objectives like community outreach and education, which could be implemented as soon as next fall.

“Right now, we’ve seen the decline in manufacturing that’s been with us for a while, but sometimes it takes us a while as a culture to get used to doing things differently and understanding that the new industries that are coming really require training,” said Wills.

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