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Cincy State, Youth Collaborative offer grants, mentors for economically disadvantaged students

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Posted at 8:54 AM, Apr 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-19 08:54:58-04

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati State and the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative are teaming up to provide tuition grants and college mentors for economically disadvantaged high school graduates.

The new partnership, announced Wednesday, coincides with the expansion of Cincinnati State’s Be Great Grant program to three more local school districts -- Norwood City Schools, North College Hill City Schools and Winton Woods City Schools.

Students from those districts will now join students from Cincinnati Public Schools in being eligible for the grants, which are designed to reduce the cost for college tuition and books to zero.

The new partnership will also track results and aims to be a national model for addressing a huge problem in higher education. Study after study says disadvantaged students are one of the most promising demographics to meet our country’s desperate need for more college-educated workers, but many of these students struggle to stay in college and graduate because they often do not feel they belong.

“We’ve had great success increasing high school graduation rates for students participating in our programs, and mentoring is key to that success,” said Jane Keller, CEO and president of CYC, in a news release. “We would like to see every one of these students have the opportunity to attend college, and for many students, the Be Great Grants will make that much more possible.” 

The Be Great Grant program, which begins in the 2017-18 academic year, was launched in February for Pell-eligible students of Cincinnati Public Schools who plan to attend Cincinnati State. It provides full-time students with up to $1,000 for tuition and $1,000 for books to help fill gaps beyond their financial aid. More than 200 soon-to-be CPS grads have already signed up for Be Great grants. Now they will also be eligible to have a college mentor provided by CYC.

Monica Posey, president of Cincinnati State, said the college is delighted about the new partnership and its potential for students.

“If we can help students to not only be able to afford college, but also to become more comfortable in the college environment, they will take it from there and succeed,” Posey said in a news release.

In addition to providing the Be Great Grants, Cincinnati State plans to make space available for students, mentors and CYC staff in its Student Success Center and will track results that can serve as a model for other colleges.

CYC provides mentoring, work readiness and college and career success for more than 5,000 students in the four districts it serves: Cincinnati Public, Norwood City, North College Hill City and Winton Woods City Schools. Currently, 96 percent of CYC students graduate from high school on time with a post-high school plan for success. CYC intends to make available to Be Great High School Grant recipients a range of support programs including college mentoring and on-campus access to other CYC college support services.

The Cincinnati State Foundation provided initial funds to support the Be Great Grant program that is now being extended by a donor. The foundation is seeking additional donors to extend the program further.

A major donor, with other funders, is working with the college to announce a new level of the program to best support students in academic programs pursuing careers in high-demand industries. 

To qualify for a Be Great Grant, students and their parents or guardians will need to complete a free Cincinnati State Admissions Application and a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Help for these applications will be provided by CYC.

Once a student’s FAFSA is complete and her or his federal, state and institutional aid have been determined, the Be Great grants kick in to cover any gaps in tuition and book costs.

Students, parents and high school counselors interested in learning more about the Be Great High School Grant program can contact Tammie Larkins, Cincinnati State College Representative, at 513-569-1470, or at tammie.larkins@cincinnatistate.edu.