30 Years of Making College a Reality for Local Youth

For three decades, a program at Humboldt State University has helped thousands of youth from disadvantaged backgrounds on the North Coast make college a reality. Today, the mission of HSU’s TRIO Educational Talent Search continues thanks to more than $4 million in funding from two grants recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Education.

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Every year, local youth who participate in Humboldt State University’s TRIO Educational Talent Search and other programs get a taste of college life during a tour of HSU. In 2019 (above), for example, TRIO participants experienced the kinetic topography sandbox and other features of HSU’s Library.

For three decades, a program at Humboldt State University has helped thousands of youth from disadvantaged backgrounds on the North Coast make college a reality. Today, the mission of HSU’s TRIO Educational Talent Search continues thanks to more than $4 million in funding from two grants recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Education.

“This program is essential because economic inequity, systemic racism, blatant prejudices, and unconscious bias are barriers to academic achievement,” says ETS program director Rose Sita Francia. “All people, including youth in our region, deserve every opportunity to earn an education, and a living wage regardless of their background or life experience.”

Distributed over the next five years, the funding will support ETS resources and services, which are designed to help youth from disadvantaged backgrounds complete high school and enroll in postsecondary education.

The program provides comprehensive and free services that include: college preparation, one-on-one and group academic and career advising and mentoring; tutoring; field trips and college tours; help with completing college, trade school, and financial aid applications; skill-building and informational workshops; and summer programming. Support is available to students from the time they join to the time they graduate from high school.

Educational Talent Search is one of eight initiatives sponsored by the Federal TRIO Programs, all of which are designed to identify and provide support for underserved students. The program was originally part of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 in response to President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

According to the Department of Education, 80% of ETS participants enroll in postsecondary institutions immediately following high school graduation. More than 309,000 students are enrolled in 473 Talent Search TRIO projects across the United States.
HSU’s TRIO ETS launched in 1991 as part of the Student Academic Support Outreach Program with Richard Hicks at the helm. Both programs helped remove barriers and built pathways to HSU for underrepresented youth throughout California. Under Hicks, a recipient of HSU’s Distinguished Alumni award, Adrienne Colgrove-Raymond, and Francia, ETS has supported approximately 4,700 low-income, first generation students on their journey to higher education. Every year, the program serves about 1,000 middle and high school students in rural coastal communities in Humboldt, Del Norte, and most recently, Mendocino counties. This year, TRIO is expected to assist nearly 1,500 students.

“It was an absolute privilege to spend 10 years as part of the national family of TRIO directors and to be able to work with our local middle and high school students, parents, and educators,” says Colegrove-Raymond, now the coordinator for Indian Tribal & Educational Personnel Program. “I believe that HSU’s TRIO Educational Talent Search demonstrates the epitome of the goals and strategies of the visionaries of the Civil Rights leaders of the 1960s who originally designed it. They knew that equity and justice are achieved only when all students have an opportunity to learn the tools needed to strengthen their skills and talents, not just the privileged and wealthy.”

Students’ determination to go to college and the commitment of ETS staff to help them reach their goals have made ETS the successful program it is today.

“As we enter year 30 of consecutive programming, we celebrate each and every ETS alumni and staff members for their accomplishments and dedication!” says Francia.

For more information, go to talentsearch.humboldt.edu or call all (707) 826-4791.