MARCH 16, 2005

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State, national officials celebrate success, fight to keep funding of education programs

Oklahoma U.S. Rep. Tom Cole recently addressed a group of 900 on TriO Day at the state Capitol.

More than 900 college administrators, educators, state officials and students from throughout the state met at the state Capitol recently to celebrate the success of Oklahoma’s TRiO programs.

Those in attendance also made their voices heard about President George Bush’s recent proposal to eliminate TRiO’s Upward Bound and Talent Search programs and redirect the funding toward an extension of his No Child Left Behind Program.

Beginning in the late 1960's, Congress established a series of programs to help low-income Americans develop the academic skills necessary to enter college and to graduate. These programs are funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and are referred to as the TRiO Programs.

TRiO benefits students from families with little money, the culturally disadvantaged, those who have parents that never have attended college and the disabled.

At the TRiO gathering, Oklahoma U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, and state Sen. Jay Paul Gumm both spoke against the president’s plan.

Cole told TRiO members that Bush’s plan is a mistake and that the battle to keep TRO is “one I think we’re going to win.”

Also in attendance to support TRiO were Susan Savage, Oklahoma secretary of state, and TRiO representatives from throughout the state.

Upward Bound, a component of the TRiO Program and now in its sixth year at UCO, has served 128 students who are of low-income families, disadvantaged or are students who are the first in their family to attend college. This program at UCO has a 100 percent graduation rate.

“Eliminating Upward Bound would be demoralizing for the students and their families, and a considerable loss of an opportunity for hundreds of Oklahoma high school students,” said Barry Lofton, UCO TRiO Program director.

“The program simply works and should not be eliminated.”

Former UCO Upward Bound participant Taneal Mukes said the program molded her into the person she is today.

“Without the Upward Bound Program, I would not be who I am today.

“I’m a senior elementary education major at UCO, and the program supported and motivated me to become a better person and student.

“In Upward Bound, I was part of a family that loved me and encouraged me to pursue a college education. Upward Bound helped me to recognize my hidden talents and strengths in academic areas,” Mukes said.

More than 10.5 million Americans have benefited from the services of the TRiO pre-college and college programs, which are titled Educational Opportunity Centers, the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Program, Student Support Services, Talent Search, Upward Bound, Upward Bound Math/Science and Veterans Upward Bound.

“In many communities throughout America, the TRiO Programs are the only programs that help low-income Americans to enter college, graduate and to move on to participate more fully in America’s economic and social life,” said Dr. Arnold Mitchem, president of the Council for Opportunity in Education.

TRiO funds are distributed to institutions through competitive grants. More than 1,200 colleges, universities, community colleges and agencies now offer TRiO Programs in America.

Last year the state of Oklahoma received approximately $24 million in funding, had 81 established TRiO programs and served approximately 27,323 students.

Oklahoma institutions with representatives that attended TRiO day are the University of Central Oklahoma, University of Oklahoma, American Indian Resource Center, Inc., Bacone College, Cameron University, Carl Albert State College, Carl Chickasaw Foundation, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Connors State College, East Central University, Eastern Oklahoma State College and Langston University.

Representative from Murray State College, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M, Northeastern State University, Oklahoma City Community College, Oklahoma State University, Oklahoma State University in OKC, Quality Educational Services for Today and Tomorrow, Inc., Redlands Community College, Rogers State University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Southern Nazarene University also were present.

Contact: Roy Howe, UCO University Relations Staff Writer (405) 974-2103