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College Access Challenge Grant Programs

Purpose of Program | Adult Learners Focus | K-12 | Current Grant Activities | Sub-grant Recipients | Contacts

Prospective students including adult learners may go to OregonOpportunities.Gov  for college guidance.

Purpose of the Program

The College Access Challenge Grant (CACG) Program is a statewide college access initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Education and coordinated by a multi-agency team including all postsecondary education sectors in the state.  The CACG is a federally-funded formula grant program that is designed to foster partnerships among federal, state and local government entities and philanthropic organizations to significantly increase the number of underrepresented students who enter and remain in postsecondary education. The CACG provides grants to States to meet the needs of underrepresented students and families.  

The Oregon University System coordinates the grant activity for the State of Oregon, in collaboration with the Governor’s office and statewide partners in all educational sectors.  The State of Oregon currently holds two CACGP grants, the first grant awarded in 2008 which is active through August 2011, and a second one-year grant awarded in 2010 which is also active through August 2011.

Click here to visit the US Department of Education's summary of the College Access Grant Program.

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Adult Learner Focus  

The first CACG grant (2008-2011) focuses on prospective students in Oregon including adult learners by encouraging them to consider the possibilities of postsecondary training and providing them with information about how to return to or enroll in college. The first grant supports the Adult Learner College Line (877-848-4669) until August 2011 in which trained specialists answer questions from potential postsecondary education students; a website for adult learners and other prospective students, www.OregonOpportunities.gov; a “train the trainer” initiative in which guidancecounselors, volunteer mentors, and human service and community agency staff are trained in financial aidbasics; and a marketing campaign to spread awarenessof these and other college resources in the state.

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K-12 Focus   

Oregon’s second  (2010) grant of $1.5 million focuses on increasing the number of Oregon K-12 students who attend postsecondary education by expanding the capacity of programs which provide pre-college enrichment opportunities so they can serve greater numbers of students with high quality programming. This grant is a one year program through mid-August 2011. There are three primary components of this approach:

  • Increase the capacity of existing and new college enrichment programs with partner organizations to serve more Oregon K-12 students through a sub-granting process
  • Expand Oregon’s ASPIRE program to 50 new sites around the state
  • Provide a pilot program through NELA for 3,500 elementary school students that will expose them early to college and career exploration.

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Current Grant Activities, College Enrichment Programs

Access to Student Assistance Programs In Reach of Everyone (ASPIRE)Pre-college academic preparation and enrichment programs available to rural and other underrepresented communities are vital to get students familiar and comfortable with college expectations. One program with a demonstrable record of success is ASPIRE (Access to Student Assistance Programs In Reach of Everyone). Created by the Oregon Student Assistance Commission (OSAC), ASPIRE began with four pilot schools in 1998 as a program to encourage students who do not typically think of themselves as college bound. Today, ASPIRE is in 115 middle and high schools across Oregon, engages 1,516 volunteers, and reaches more than 11,000 students from all walks of life. Oregon’s 2010 CACG will expand ASPIRE from 115 sites in the state to 165 sites during this grant period, increasing all students reached by 30-40% by year 2 of the program implementation. ASPIRE will involve Educational Service Districts in order that more small schools can participate through sharing of a site coordinator, and to target current areas with fewer ASPIRE sites, such as Eastern Oregon and other rural and urban locations. Additionally, the CACG program will support summer institutes for public school counselors and volunteer mentors from rural communities, and assist students in completing the FAFSA.

Northwest Education Loan Association (NELA): Outreach to students in elementary grades will be accomplished by increasing the availability of a program designed by the Northwest Education Loan Association to increase college awareness among even younger students. “I’m Going to College” is an early awareness program for elementary age students that provides a college and career curriculum and culminates with a visit at a college campus. An additional 3,500 students in Oregon will have the opportunity to participate in this program.

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Sub-Grant Recipients

Chemeketa Community College: The Success Early College High School (SECHS) pilot project will provide college preparation, career/college exploration and college transition for a unique population of students from Success High School, Woodburn School District’s alternative school. Success High School enrolls students who were non-achievers in traditional high school settings; it serves a large percentage of teen parents, low-income youth and high school drop-outs re-entering the educational system. To encourage enrollment in post secondary education, Success High School and Chemeketa Community College developed the SECHS pilot project.

Concordia University is partnering with De La Salle North Catholic High School to provide two transition academies for incoming ninth grade and tenth grade students who are identified as students of concern. We intend to offer an integrated curriculum for incoming freshmen and incoming sophomores with academic priority, based on high school placement and report cards.  Through an experiential learning model, we will promote personal decision-making and build confidence by using an integrated curriculum: teaching math, reading and writing in an active manner.  Each academy will be a three-week summer session of 30-35 incoming freshmen or sophomores.

Grants Pass Family YMCA/College Dreams: Through the Early Direct College Access Preparation Project (EDCAPP), College Dreams will serve 140 Grants Pass School District 8th & 9th grade students with good college potential who have multiple dropout risk factors. EDCAPP will develop a college-going culture, motivate academic excellence, encourage rigorous college preparatory class selection, and facilitate early college access. EDCAPP staff will mentor and coach participants and their parents regarding college awareness, career exploration, college preparation, affordability, and the role of college in securing desired careers. EDCAPP partnership resources will include barrier removal funding, academic incentive awards, earned scholarships, and $6,000 scholarships for low income students.  

Hermiston High School: It is not enough to change the culture to a “college going community”, but we must ensure that we are creating a “college staying culture” as well. We are ready to take our work with underserved populations to the next level of success through increased college visits, practical knowledge of scholarships and parent involvement. Our Laying the Foundation for Post-Secondary Success project encompasses the entire school district; with parent information nights at each grade level, service based learning as well as college visits starting in middle school, culminating in essay writing skills for increased scholarship performance at the high school level.

Impact Northwest/Marshall High School SUN: The SUN Post-Secondary Options project will serve Marshall High School, a high diversity, low-income school in Southeast Portland, with a current graduation rate of just 50%. Through the hiring of a College Prep Coordinator, the program will: transform the Marshall High School campus to a college-going culture through outreach and education; provide the most at-risk students with one-on-one, individually tailored, college preparation assistance; deepen community partnerships in support of student academic success and college enrollment; and provide parents with guidance in navigating the college application and financial aid process.

Incight Company: Through the S.T.A.R.T. Post-Secondary Success project, Incight seeks to increase the matriculation of students with disabilities into college from the five school districts in the Portland Metropolitan Area. We will accomplish this by increasing the resources, transition tools and services available to this target population as well as high school counselors and faculty at the post-secondary level. As part of this project, Incight will partner with the high schools and with Western Oregon University in better addressing the barriers which keep those with disabilities from accessing pathways to post-secondary education.

The Inn: The project pairs Coaches (mentors) with youth in foster care to provide educational preparation, tutoring, and advocacy.  The coaches also work with families or foster families to help create a supportive educational environment for the students.  The program provides campus visitation, college connections, and career exploration.  This program is an expansion of an existing Mentoring and Independent Living Program in Multnomah County.

Lane Community College: The College Transition Support Program (CTSP) in Cottage Grove project adapts and expands the CTSP program to students attending Kennedy Alternative and Cottage Grove High Schools in Cottage Grove, Oregon. Lane’s High School Connections will improve the college transition model to support rural students’ enrollment and retention. This project includes modified curriculum, increased coordination with high school staff and services, and other adjustments to tailor the program to an off-campus setting to serve 40 rural students. The goal is to improve these rural, at-risk students’ chance of success in higher education, and ultimately their lives.

McMinnville School District: McMinnville’s Bridge to College project will be implemented at both McMinnville High School and at the Media Arts and Communications Academy, with the goal of increasing the number of low-income and first-generation students who go on to and graduate from college. To achieve this goal, the project will ensure that students are academically prepared and on-track for college; will provide access to dual high school/college credit coursework at the schools; will surround students with mentors and adults who will strengthen and sustain college-going aspirations; will support students to complete the critical steps for college entry, such as taking the SAT/ACT exams, and completing the FAFSA financial aid application; and help parents and guardians also understand the steps that need to be taken in order to enroll in college and apply for financial aid.

Native American Youth & Family Center (NAYA): NAYA’s Ladder to Success project will be implemented at Portland State University, Portland Community College, University of Oregon and Mt. Hood Community College. The goal of this project is to ensure that all youth participating in the program will attend an institution of post-secondary education. To achieve this goal, the project will incorporate systematic change that provides training, tools, and resources for all staff to enhance their ability to serve youth in meeting the post-secondary education goal. The project will also increase community awareness and involvement to ensure the success of all youth attending and graduating from an institution of post-secondary education.

Oregon Health and Career Center: The Health Careers College Success Program serves hundreds of low-income, disadvantaged and minority students each year – providing a sophisticated array of school-year and summer programming that has a proven record of successful college entry and completion for participants. Students participate in study skills learning, financial and other advising, cultural competency learning, college field trips and advising, rigorous college-level math and science coursework, and much more. The expansion of this program will allow us to serve two additional high schools, increasing program capacity by 40%.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI): OMSI’s Salmon Camp project will be implemented with the help of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission and Education Northwest. The goal of this project is to engage Native American youth in STEM study by combining hands-on scientific field research with Native American traditions and knowledge. To achieve this goal, the project will increase the number of Native students reached; will develop math activities aligned with Oregon standards and integrated into program experiences; and will hire a Salmon Education Coordinator. In addition, partner organization Education Northwest will rigorously evaluate the projects impacts and provide suggested program adjustments.

Outside In: Outside In will be expanding and stabilizing their College Quarters program, which is part of its Employment Education Resource Center (ERC). The purpose of College Quarters is to prepare homeless youth, aged 18-24 to enroll in college, successfully transition from a street culture to a campus and academic culture, and to explore long term career goals while beginning to support themselves through part time employment. Most homeless youth have given little thought to college, believing it to be a dream far beyond their ability or means. Many of them have not completed their high school education and come from families where no one did so. The College Quarters/ERC are able to awaken in these disenfranchised youth their latent intelligence, self-esteem and determination to build a positive life for themselves.

Sweet Home School District: Making Dreams Happen is an innovative approach to increase college preparedness, awareness and access for Sweet Home High School’s underrepresented students and their families. Our program has been designed to increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education as well as provide guidance and college awareness workshops to parents and families. The project is three-fold: preparing for the dream of college by encouraging and promoting academic achievement, realizing the dream though college awareness activities and career exploration and finally, accessing the dream through campus visits linked to career aspirations.

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Contacts: