Tag: Evaluation of Trio and Gear Up

A Critical Look At Federal Outreach Programs- Trio and Gear Up

  There is very little evaluative work on these billion dollar longstanding programs , but our guest blogger takes a hard look at them.

Watson Scott Swail, CEO, Educational Policy Institute/EPI International

In the mid-1960s, as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the creation of the Higher Education Act of 1965, the Federal TRIO programs were created, originally consisting of Talent Search, Upward Bound, and Student Support Services. Together, these three programs targeted low-income students, many of whom were and are minority students. Talent Search and Upward Bound focus on middle and high school, while Student Support Services operates at the postsecondary level to help students stay in college.

The TRIO programs, since expanded to include offshoots of the original programs (e.g., Veterans Upward Bound Program), provide direct services to students. The typical TRIO program is run through a higher education institution, but Talent Search and Upward Bound services are provided at the local school level and SSS at the host institution. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of TRIO is its inability to change how institutions deal with students, especially at the secondary school level. More on this later.

Fast forward thirty years: Congress reauthorizes the Higher Education Act and includes a new program called Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs. Thankfully, we just call it GEAR UP. GEAR UP does many of things that Upward Bound and Talent Search do (e.g., academic preparation; FAFSA completion, etc.), but the intent was for it to do what TRIO does not: push systemic reform in public schools. READ MORE…