SMCC awarded $2.6 million in federal grants for TRIO SSS program

Southern Maine Community will receive more than $2.6 million in federal grants aimed at helping first-generation, low-income and disabled students achieve academic success.

The U.S. Department of Education is awarding two separate grants to SMCC’s TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) program to provide academic and other support services for 240 students annually over the next five years. The goal is to increase students’ retention and graduation rates, facilitate their transfer to four-year colleges, and foster an institutional climate of support.

One of the grants is a continuation of a previous grant from 2015 that will serve 140 individuals at any one time who are low-income and first-generation college students and students with disabilities. A second grant will provide funding for another 100 students with disabilities at any one time. Each grant provides the College about $262,000 each year for the next five years, for a total of $2.6 million.

“These grants represent investments in our students, in our College and in our state,” said SMCC President Joe Cassidy. “They will allow us to continue to give students the support and guidance they need to achieve academic success and career success after graduation.”

The TRIO SSS program guides students to graduation through the use of individualized counseling and advising, peer mentoring, academic tutoring and other support services. The program may also provide grant aid to qualifying students.

Liberal Studies student Alissa Ford said the TRIO SSS program has provided her and other TRIO SSS students the support and guidance they need to not only succeed academically, but also to grow personally. At the same time, she added, TRIO students learn leadership and other valuable skills that will serve them well throughout their lives. Ford is the first member of her family to ever attend college and plans to transfer to the University of Maine at Orono after she graduates next spring.

“Through TRIO, I’ve received support and help with my academics, but I’ve also gotten a better sense of who I am not only as a student, but as a person,” she said. “I would not be where I am without TRIO.”