Grant continues CMU’s outreach to Detroit students

Federal funds will support five years of helping 500 teens find paths to college

| Author: Aaron Mills

​A $277,375 federal grant will empower Central Michigan University to continue helping low-income Detroit students become the first in their families on paths to college degrees.

The five-year competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Education continues funding to CMU for Talent Search, a federal TRIO Program that identifies and assists middle and high school students who have the potential to succeed in higher education. A previous grant funded CMU's participation beginning in 2017.

Since that time, the CMU program has served more than 2,000 students in selected Detroit Public Schools — 500 students per year, with new students joining as others graduate.

The high school graduation rate for participants in CMU's program is 98%, with 75% going on to postsecondary education — measures that met or exceeded goals, said Primavera Jimenez, project director for CMU's TRIO Detroit college programs.

Talent Search provides academic, career and financial counseling to students and families and exposes participants to higher education opportunities. There is no out-of-pocket cost to participate. At least two-thirds of the students in each local program are from low-income economic backgrounds and families in which neither parent has a bachelor's degree.

"We're working with the whole family about what college looks like," Jimenez said.

CMU takes it to the next level with weeklong summer camps for middle schoolers and two-week camps for high schoolers. The students tour campus, stay in the residence halls and attend faculty-led classes focused on careers, entrepreneurship, STEM and more. Jimenez said CMU's program is unique in offering two-week visits.

During the school year, a CMU team works with Talent Search students in their schools at least once a week. They receive counseling as well as information about college admissions requirements, scholarships and student financial aid programs, so they can better understand their educational opportunities and options.

Jimenez said CMU's program serves southwest Detroit, a heavily Latino community, but participation is not limited to minority students.

"The main thing is that CMU is providing opportunities for first-generation students," she said. "It's nice to see the students advance and know there are a lot of different possibilities for them in the world."

According to the Department of Education, more than 309,000 students enrolled in Talent Search TRIO projects in the U.S. in fiscal year 2020.

Jimenez said CMU's Talent Search program was one of 473 funded out of more than 800 applicants. CMU also sponsors three other TRIO programs through the Office of Student Success: two Upward Bound programs for high school students and the  McNair Scholars program for first-generation CMU students aspiring to graduate degrees.

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