St. Paul, Minn. — The Minnesota Office of Higher Education awarded $2.7 million in Intervention for College Attendance Program (ICAP) grants to 26 postsecondary institutions, professional organizations, and community-based organizations to support college access and outreach programs that focus on providing services to historically underserved and underrepresented college students.
Serving students in grades six through 12, ICAP intends to create a college and career pipeline for students who may not have adequate resources within their families and communities to prepare for college.
The competitive grant program awarded grantees up to $120,000 over the course of two years to fund projects and services including mentorship, academic counseling, career awareness and exploration, financial aid counseling, and other college support services.
Since 2000, ICAP was created by the Minnesota Legislature to support equity in educational outcomes for students of color, low-income students, first-generation students, and English as a Second Language learners in middle and high school. Many ICAP-funded projects incorporate culturally-specific pedagogies and activities into the curriculum, which aid in students’ positive identity formation while advancing toward college. Funded projects often utilize college students, mentors, and instructors that reflect the youth they serve, in terms of race and ethnicity, age, and socio-economic status. Read quotes from this year's grantees below.
In addition to promoting college access and retention, ICAP grantees are known to strengthen communities in Minnesota, going beyond student support. The majority of ICAP-funded projects work with students’ families for the purpose of multi-generational learning, skill-building, and building a college-going family culture. This includes intentional parent outreach, financial literacy support, and parent education workshops that foster meaningful connections.
ICAP programs utilize a number of different techniques and overall approaches in order to best serve the students they work with. Student needs vary immensely throughout the state, and each project tailors their program to be a best fit for the communities they work with.
"Cultural relevance is what really speaks to the identity of our young people, so we are always trying to find ways to bring cultural relevance into our space. When Native identities are valued and fostered, our students achieve at higher levels. When a young person understands their identity, it instills purpose.
ICAP allows us the opportunity to operationalize culture, which is what we need to offer students unique opportunities, and the grant allows us to bring in partnerships and work that perpetuate what we're doing in our program. For us, culture is social emotional development and when our students understand those fundamentals of their development, it instills integrity and develops character, so they can be successful in postsecondary education or whatever path they choose."
- Jessica Rousseau, Director of Secondary Education, American Indian OIC, Minneapolis, Minn.
"Many of our students aren't only first-generation college students, they are often first-generation high school graduates. The TORCH program means so much to the families we serve. We are dedicated to helping our students achieve because it's an accomplishment for the whole family system.
ICAP provides very significant funding to staff our program, and TORCH wouldn't exist if we didn't have the staff to make these meaningful connections with the students we serve. This grant really allows us to focus on the work and provide services for our students to reach their goals."
- Tessa Kiesow, Tackling Obstacles & Raising College Hopes (TORCH) High School Director at Northfield Public Schools, Northfield Healthy Community Initiative, Northfield, Minn.
"Our new program is rooted in the specific needs of the East African students, who are often underrepresented, first-generation students from immigrant communities. We are incorporating a culturally-specific approach, connecting students with professionals from their own community who can provide guidance in a culturally sensitive and relevant manner, provide mentorship, connect them with resources and provide guidance to various career paths. ICAP is helping to provide a very strong financial foundation for our program."
- Amani Hussein, Operations Manager, Metro Youth Diversion Center, Saint Anthony, Minn.
Youth in Action (YA!) focuses on three elements for our students: personal, professional, and civic engagement skills. We empower our students in all aspects, incorporating academics, college knowledge, and leadership skills, as well as incorporating identities and culture specifically to them as Latinx students. We make sure our students bring their voices to the table to make this program their own. ICAP has a big impact on how we are able to run our daily tasks and overall programming. It is definitely foundational in the work that we do.
- Briana Garcia-Saldana, Youth In Action (YA!) Program Supervisor
Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio (CLUES), Saint Paul, Minn.