TRIO staff members and students from Detroit high schools are pictured at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

New Detroit TRIO programs find success in community, schools

Programs celebrate National TRIO Day at Wright Museum of African American History

Adam Harris is the new director of Grand Valley's TRIO Upward Bound Detroit program, charged with recruiting students into the program and aiding their success through high school and into college.

Since January, he and other staff members have had a consistent presence at University Preparatory Academy and University Prep Art and Design, offering tutoring services, workshops and seminars. Both high schools are among the charter schools authorized by Grand Valley. TRIO Upward Bound programs serve high school students from underserved communities and those who would be first-generation college students.

The university received a five-year, $1.4 million federal grant to establish the program, which will serve 60 students from those two schools. Harris has since discovered it won't be an issue to recruit and serve 60 students.

"There is a lot of interest. What the students say is that they want a sense of family. They want growth and development in their academics, social and cultural aspects of their lives," Harris said. "We can offer that. And the students understand that they have a role to play in their futures."

four people on a stage, man in center holding a certificate
From left to right are Adam Harris, Nykia Gaines, Jonathan Jones and Whitney Thomas. Jones is the manager of youth and family programs for the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
Image credit - courtesy photo
large group standing on stage with screen in background that reads National TRIO Day, closing session
Grand Valley TRIO staff members stand with representatives from Detroit organizations that partnered to support National TRIO Day programming.
Image credit - courtesy photo

Prior to joining Grand Valley, Harris worked for TRIO Upward Bound at Oakland University. He now works from Grand Valley's Detroit Center and said the city offers a different type of energy. Harris spent last fall meeting with leaders from Detroit businesses and nonprofit organizations to establish partnerships.

"We now have lots of community partners. People are excited for this program, so many organizations are willing to assist in the process of getting Detroit students to college," Harris said.

GVSU offers 11 federal TRIO programs, the most of any Michigan college or university that houses these programs. A second Detroit program, TRIO Upward Bound Math-Science, was also established last fall. It's led by Whitney Thomas and serves 60 students from University Prep Science and Math. 

Both Detroit programs celebrated National TRIO Day with 50 students during a daylong program February 17 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. Nykia Gaines, assistant vice president for federal TRIO programs, said it was very special to her to celebrate the day in her hometown.

"Our staff in Detroit have done such a wonderful job of connecting with students and administrators at the schools, explaining the services and resources they can provide," Gaines said. "The community's support has been tremendous. This is such a win for Detroit and for Grand Valley."

B. Donta Truss, vice president for Enrollment Development and Educational Outreach, said these programs demonstrate the university's commitment to eliminating barriers to education.

"TRIO Upward Bound offers a college-going model that introduces learners to higher education at an early age and equips them with readiness skills," Truss said. "By establishing these programs in Detroit, we are connecting with Southeast Michigan and letting students and their parents know that Grand Valley is here for them."


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