College Leaders Hope to Keep Up Government Support of TRIO Programs
With the Clinton administration in its final months, college outreach specialists meeting in Washington in September focused on the issue of continuity — seeking to build on gains made during the past eight years regardless of which party claims the White House in November.
Those attending a 35th anniversary celebration of federal TRIO programs last month heard about the growth in outreach programs as well as aid to minority-serving colleges since President Clinton took office in 1993. But the foundation also is set to continue these gains in the near future.
Minority-serving colleges should receive funding gains in 2001 and beyond, Clinton administration officials told conference attendees.
This increase would build on a steady period of growth since 1993, says Sterling Henry of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
During the past seven years alone, HBCUs have received more than $70 million to help promote economic growth and community development in their local areas.
“They’re building their communities,” Henry says. Thanks largely to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development funds, more than 50 HBCUs also have Community Development Corporations, or organizations that conduct extensive outreach efforts to promote economic growth in their regions.
Elsewhere, HBCUs have received about $100 million from U.S. Department of Agriculture programs and making inroads into U.S. Department of Justice programs that promote community policing. Another high priority is improved facilities at HBCUs, including the preservation of historic buildings.
“I think you are going to see a tremendous amount of construction and renovation at HBCUs,” Henry says.
The White House HBCU initiative also is working closely with staff who head similar White House initiatives on Hispanic-serving institutions and tribal colleges. All three of these special initiatives seek to increase federal support for the minority-serving colleges they represent.
One particular area of collaboration is technical assistance, since HBCUs, HSIs and tribal colleges all need to build capacity to apply for federal grants and other assistance. The three White House initiatives also have worked jointly to address technology issues at their member institutions. “We’re all on the same team,” Henry says.
For TRIO programs, which promote college outreach and retention, prospects also are good for a large increase for 2001. The House, Senate and Clinton administration all are in favor of moderate increases beyond current funding of $725 million.
Those at the conference, “35 Years in TRIO: A Success Story,” also heard from supporters such as Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who noted that even outside researchers have documented the program’s success.
“This program has been constantly scrutinized,” Kennedy said. “There is no program I know that has been more reviewed, more studied, more examined than the TRIO program and probably no program that has come up better than TRIO.”
The only possible “tragedy” in the program, he says, is a lack of funding that leaves sponsoring agencies only able to serve 10 percent of eligible youth. “If there’s something wrong with this program, it’s not that it’s doing too much but that’s it’s doing too little.”
For more information about the conference or activities marking the TRIO programs’ 35th anniversary, visit the Web site (http://www.trioprograms.org).
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