Owens grant will help low-income students succeed

PERRYSBURG — The U.S. Department of Education has announced that Owens Community College will receive a federal Student Support Services grant to help more students succeed in and graduate from college.

TRIO SSS has been at Owens Community College since September 2015 and has served over 200 students.

SSS helps college students who are low income, first-generation (those whose parents do not have a four-year college degree) or students with disabilities. The array of services the grant will provide are comprehensive and will include academic tutoring, financial aid advice, career and college mentoring, help in choosing courses and other forms of assistance. Such services enhance academic success and make it more likely that students will graduate or transfer with the lowest possible debt.

Many Student Support Services alumni have gone on to success, among them Emmy, Tony and Academy-Award winning actress Viola Davis, U.S. Rep. Gwendolyn Moore of Wisconsin’s 4th District and Franklin Chang-Diaz, the first Hispanic astronaut.

SSS began in 1968 and is one of the eight federal TRIO programs authorized by the Higher Education Act to help college students succeed in higher education. It recognizes that students whose parents do not have a college degree have more difficulties navigating the complexity of decisions that college requires for success; it bolsters students from low-income families who have not had the academic opportunities that their college peers have had and helps students with disabilities remove obstacles preventing them from thriving academically.

The grant proposal team consisted of members from across the Owens community: Heidi Altomare, director of grants; Denise Smith, vice president of academic affairs/provost; Anne Fulkerson, director of institutional research and institutional effectiveness; Erica Parish, dean of accreditation and academic support services; David Shaffer, executive director of student services and enrollment Services; and Brandon Gaddy, Director of TRIO Student Support Services. Their input and collaborative work were essential to the grant writing and submission process.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the systemic inequality and financial hardship which keep promising students from succeeding in college. Student Support Services is needed now more than ever,” said Maureen Hoyler. Hoyler is the president of the non-profit Council for Opportunity in Education in Washington, D.C., dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students, and students with disabilities.