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Office of Higher Education Awarded Grant to Prepare Students for College



Contact: Sandy Connolly, Director of Communications
Office of Higher Education
(651) 259-3902

St. Paul, MN  The Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE) is pleased to announce it has been chosen to receive a 2012 federal College Access Challenge Grant in the amount of $1.56 million. The purpose of the College Access Challenge Grant Program (CACGP) is to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. Minnesota has been awarded this grant every year since it was enacted by Congress under "The College Cost Reduction and Access Act" in 2007. "These federal dollars will be used to prepare hundreds of students for success in college and assure they have the necessary skills for the future workforce," said Dr. Nancy Walters, who manages the grant at OHE.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) projects that over the next ten years, approximately 59 percent of the total job openings will require at least some college. At the same time, Minnesota's population is rapidly becoming more diverse, and the U.S. Census Bureau is predicting the number of students of color in Minnesota will grow quickly over the next few decades.

According to Walters, Minnesota has one of the largest racial achievement gaps in the country; poverty also disproportionately affects certain racial and ethnic groups in the state. Walters said while it is encouraging that aspirations to attend college are high across all Minnesota high school students, many lack the support and knowledge necessary to reach this goal.

"As a result of Minnesota's continued shortage of school counselors, students and parents are not receiving the direct services necessary to improve college readiness and success," said Dr. Walters. "These federal funds allow us to assist school counselors across the state with their college advising and counseling responsibilities."

One of the primary programs funded by the College Access Grant is the Summer Academic Enrichment Program, which provides funding for up to 550 low-income students to attend summer academic enrichment camps. According to Walters, low-income students are especially vulnerable to the "summer slide" of academic skills, which contributes significantly to their achievement gap.

Other projects funded by this grant include:

  • Naviance Succeed Licensing and Training
  • Mn Association for College Admissions Counseling/support for peer group sessions
  • MN Department of Education/assistance with student assessment data
  • Financial Literacy Grant Program, a competitive program to help low-income high school students make sound financial decisions
  • MN Minority Education Partnership Outreach, providing outreach on college access and success
  • Outreach to African American Community
  • Outreach to Latino Community
  • Financial Aid and College Access Speakers Bureau

Since the program's implementation in 2008, over 600,000 contacts have been made with low-income students through interactions with middle and high school counselors from over 267 school districts.

For more information on the College Access Challenge Grant Program, contact Sandy Connolly at 651-259-3902, or by email at

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