Up to 500 promising students from area middle schools and high schools each year will have an opportunity to attend college thanks to a five-year US Department of Education Talent Search Program grant totaling $1,150,000 that was recently awarded to Daytona State College.
The first year’s award of $230,000 is part of a total $142,000,000 that will be split among 464 institutions nationwide, according to the Department of Education’s website.
The Talent Search Program identifies qualified students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have the potential to succeed in college with appropriate academic, career and financial counseling. Through the grant, Daytona State has partnered with 13 target schools in Volusia County, each identified as a Title I school in need of enhanced student support services.
“Securing this grant truly was a massive endeavor, and I am so pleased that we can bring this money into our community to help 500 students a year,” said Brianna Holt, Daytona State’s resource development coordinator who led the grant proposal team along with Isalene Montgomery, associate vice president of the college’s Division of Alternative Services and principal investigator for the grant.
“This grant focuses on middle school students and follows them through high school to help them build academic discipline and prepare them to transition into college studies,” said Montgomery. “We are looking at kids who are potential first-generation college students who may not have sufficient support at home to understand that college is a possibility for them.”
The program’s ultimate goal is for the students to be accepted to a college or university and earn a bachelor’s degree, Montgomery said.
Students who will be served by the grant are from Campbell, DeLand, Deltona, Galaxy, Heritage, Holly Hill and Southwestern middle schools, as well as Atlantic, DeLand, Deltona, Mainland and Pine Ridge high schools and Taylor Middle-High School. All seven middle schools feed directly into the six target high schools to ensure continuity of services, Holt said. Students will be tracked throughout their secondary and postsecondary education to measure their progress and the program’s success.
The core of the Talent Search Program revolves around an action plan called an Individualized Graduation and Accountability Plan (IGAP) that will be provided to the students who are selected. It includes academic tutoring services; help with choosing secondary and post-secondary courses; preparation for college entrance examinations and completing college admission applications; information about financial aid programs, benefits and scholarships, including completing financial aid applications; and field trips to postsecondary institutions and cultural events.
The Talent Search Program has strong internal institutional support and written commitments of support with all partnering target schools, as well as the Volusia County School District. Daytona State will collaborate with the Volusia County School District and its school-based Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) programs to ensure the cost-effectiveness of grant expenditures. The mission of AVID is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success.