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New $1.3M TRIO program for students with high financial need

Augustana College will launch the TRIO Scholars Program in early 2021 to bolster the academic, graduation and career success of students.

Supported by a $1.3 million TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) grant from the Department of Education, the five-year program will provide services to low-income and/or first-generation students, as well as students with disabilities. The first group will include 140 Augustana students.

The goal is to increase student retention and graduation rates.

“At Augustana, we see the TRIO program as another way we can help improve the upward mobility of students,” said President Steve Bahls. “We are committed to helping all Augie students and providing pathways toward high-demand careers.”

Augustana will identify students with the greatest need and provide individualized academic support, guidance, mentoring and strengths-based leadership assessment and training.

Focusing on strengths

“We have developed a signature approach designed to help Augustana students recognize and build on their own personal strengths, enabling them to hone and articulate their leadership skills and talents,” said Dr. Kristin Douglas, associate dean.

Augustana is building the new program on the cornerstones of Gallup’s CliftonStrengths assessment and will use accompanying strengths-based leadership training, positive psychology, and strengths-based advising and coaching related to curricular, co-curricular and career planning.

CliftonStrengths is an internationally recognized assessment tool used to help identify the areas in which people have the greatest potential for building strength. It is used in many sectors, including business, as well as higher education.

“Too often young people are confronted with their weaknesses, yet research shows that successful people focus on their strengths and advancing their strengths, not their weaknesses,” said Dr. Douglas.

TRIO participants at Augustana will come to understand what they naturally do best, learn how to develop their greatest talents into strengths, and benefit from personalized results and reports.

For steeper barriers, more support

“Augustana College has long provided transformative educational experiences. At the same time, we recognize the need to provide the proper support to those students who undeniably face steeper barriers to success,” said Dr. Douglas.

“The TRIO Scholars program adds a necessary focus on the success of our student body, expanding upon the services that already exist with even greater clarity and very significant investment in areas where more supports are needed,” she said.

TRIO Scholars will gain valuable skills not only for their academic success, but also for their future as informed, thoughtful and productive citizens.

Students must apply to be among the first TRIO Scholars at Augustana. Acceptance into the program is by application only

The first group of TRIO Scholars will be selected beginning in January 2021. The college has a goal of enrolling 140 students by the start of spring semester Feb. 10. Programming will begin then.

“At Augie, we place success for all students at the heart of everything we do,” said President Bahls. “We are so grateful for this critical funding, which will help us ensure those students who too often face barriers to and in higher education learn to recognize their strengths and prepare for success.”

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