Three TRIO programs receive $4.5 million in federal grants to support first-generation students

Three TRIO programs at Grand Valley received federal grants totaling $4.5 million over five years to continue supporting students who are first in their families to attend college or have limited incomes.

They are the TRIO Student Support Service programs: the Classic program supports students from any major; STEM-Health Sciences and Teacher Preparation programs support students from those specific disciplines. 

Nykia Gaines, director of TRIO SSS-STEM Health Sciences, the U.S. Department of Education grants will help more students succeed and graduate from college. The funding comes at an opportune time, Gaines said, as students face varying challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We have seen the pandemic disproportionately affect people based on their race and socioeconomic backgrounds," Gaines said. "Students in TRIO programs successfully persist through college to earn degrees. This funding allows us to support them every step of the way."

The three programs collectively serve nearly 500 students. The STEM-Health Sciences and Teacher Preparation programs each received grants of $261,888 renewable for five years; the Classic program received a $372,200 grant.

Aliya Armstrong, director of TRIO SSS Teacher Preparation, said connecting with students this semester will be challenging but it remains a hallmark of the program, even after students graduate.

Armstrong relayed a conversation she had with a former TRIO participant who graduated and was having difficulties at a job.

"She was nervous and just needed to bounce some ideas off of someone. She did not know who else to call," Armstrong said. "We are constantly reminded why we do this work. As a first-generation college student myself, I completely understand what it means to navigate these waters and why connections are so important."

Learn more about Grand Valley's seven TRIO programs online at


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