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V.I. Receives $1.5 M to Help Students Attend College

The University of the Virgin Islands has received a $1.5 million grant to increase the number of students in the Virgin Islands who enter colleges and universities. A total of $1 million in scholarships will be available to eligible students for the 2010-2011 academic year. UVI, in collaboration with the Virgin Islands Board of Education and the Office of the Governor, received the grant from the U.S. Department of Education College Access Challenge Grant (CACG) Program. This is a marked increase over the $330,000, two-year grant that was previously awarded to the territory in 2008.

This grant allows UVI and its community partners to provide information to students and families about postsecondary education benefits, opportunities, planning and career preparation, and to offer need-based scholarships to students. Scholarships in the amount of $5,000 will be available for students who demonstrate a need and meet the grant's criteria for application. Scholarships can be used at any accredited college or university. Grant awards will be distributed between the St. Thomas/St. John and St. Croix districts.

Through the grant, targeted interventions will be implemented to address the disparity in the categories of students most underrepresented in accessing post-secondary training. It also allows UVI to collaborate with the American Counseling Association of the Virgin Islands to implement professional development training and to provide support to guidance counselors at middle and secondary schools. Scholarships applications and awards will be administered through the V.I. Board of Education.

Denise Lake, the grant's educational outreach coordinator from its inception, has vast experience in implementing federal grant-based programs. She works closely with educators to enhance students' and their families' awareness of the benefits of college and methods of accessing and financing higher education. Some of Lake's main duties are conducting outreach activities to guidance counselors in middle and high schools throughout the territory on post secondary financing options and providing information to assist students in completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. The College Access Grant primarily seeks to focus on students who may be at risk of not enrolling in or completing college and who are first-time college attendees.

For more information contact the Educational Outreach Coordinator Denise Lake at 692-4101 or CACG Program Project Investigator and Associate St. Croix Campus Administrator for Student Affairs Miriam Osborne Elliott at 692-4188.