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News Release

Aug. 11, 2020

TRIO Student Support Services awarded five-year funding renewal

The U.S. Department of Education has renewed its funding award to continue Northwest Missouri State University’s Student Support Services (SSS) program for another five years.

The funding award allocates $336,234 annually to the Northwest program for a total of $1.68 million through 2025.

The process to secure the grant funding is highly competitive as more community agencies are applying, Cassie Tavorn, the director of Northwest’s TRIO program, said.

“The services TRIO provides gives its participants an equitable leverage and equal opportunity through a multidimensional approach to student development in academic, cultural, career, social and economic success,” Tavorn said. “In this new era of uncertainty and ambiguity, its essential marginalized students enter into a caring community of engagement and dialog to help them forge their path toward college completion.”

Student Support Services, which Northwest launched in 1988, includes a variety of student support programs dedicated to helping disadvantaged, first-generation students meet their academic needs and successfully complete their undergraduate degrees. The office offers a variety of resources, including peer mentors who have intricate knowledge of what it takes to be academically successful during college and are available to meet with students in need of assistance.

The grant funding helps Student Support Services provide an array of comprehensive services that include academic tutoring, financial aid advice, career and college mentoring, and assistance with selecting courses. Such services enhance academic success and help increase the likelihood that students will graduate or transfer with the lowest possible debt.

Student Support Services alumni include Emmy, Tony and Academy-Award winning actress Viola Davis; U.S. Rep. Gwendolyn Moore of Wisconsin; and Franklin Chang-Diaz, the first Hispanic astronaut.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the systemic inequality and financial hardship, which keeps promising students from succeeding in college,” said Maureen Hoyler, president of the non-profit Council for Opportunity in Education in Washington, D.C., which is dedicated to expanding college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students, and students with disabilities. “Student Support Services is needed now more than ever.”

TRIO is a federally recognized educational outreach program designed for students with disadvantaged backgrounds. It serves as an umbrella organization for Northwest programs consisting of Student Support Services, Upward Bound, and Upward Bound Math and Science. Collectively, the programs are designed to motivate and support students in overcoming class, social and cultural academic barriers to accessing and succeeding in higher education.

TRIO was founded in 1964 when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Economic Opportunity Act, giving birth to Upward Bound as an experimental program. Today, more than 1,000 colleges, universities and community entities host more than 3,100 different TRIO programs, which serve about 812,000 students nationwide in an effort to help them become prepared, motivated and excited about attaining a college degree.

For more information about TRIO programming at Northwest, visit


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