Oklahoma Division of Student Assistance (ODSA)

Oklahoma established its first TRiO programs in 1966, which is the year six Upward Bound programs opened the doors for their first summer component. Over the next four years, the program directors held informal meetings to discuss the challenges and issues they faced.

Walter O. Mason, often known as “The Father of TRiO,” called for his fellow program directors to organize state-wide professional associations. Through his encouragement, a handful of program directors (including Mr. Mason) established the Oklahoma Division of Student Assistance in 1971, becoming one of the first states to have a professional organization for TRiO personnel.

Today, ODSA serves nearly 200 TRiO professionals within the state of Oklahoma and membership continues to grow. Through its annual conference, ODSA continues to promote, develop and improve the educational opportunities for eligible individuals in Oklahoma.

Educational Opportunity Centers

Educational Opportunity Centers located throughout the country primarily serve displaced or underemployed workers from families with incomes under $33,075. These Centers help people to choose a college and a suitable financial aid program. There are 124 Educational Opportunity Centers in America serving 195,000 individuals. A study of EOC participants found that 57% of college-ready students were admitted to institutions of higher learning and 56% of EOC participants who had been college dropouts had re-enrolled.This is the content of the first tab

Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement

The Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement program is designed to encourage low-income students and minority undergraduates to consider careers in college teaching as well as prepare for doctoral study. Students who participate in this program are provided with research opportunities and faculty mentors. This program was named in honor of the astronaut who died in the 1986 space-shuttle explosion. Currently, there are 201 projects, serving more than 5,400 students. Of the 1999 McNair-participant college graduates, 25-41% reported attending graduate schools and of those in their second year of graduate school, 91% were still enrolled.

Student Support Services

Student Support Services projects work to enable low-income students to stay in college until they earn their baccalaureate degrees. Participants, who include disabled college students, receive tutoring, counseling and remedial instruction. Students are now being served at 947 colleges and universities nationwide. On average, students enrolled in the program saw their GPA rise from a 2.3 in their freshman year to a 2.6 by their senior year. Similarly, 77% of those who started college in the 1998-1999 school year were in good academic standing and by their senior year, 88% were in good academic standing.

Talent Search

Talent Search projects serve young people in grades six through 12. In addition to counseling, participants receive information about college admissions requirements, scholarships and various student financial aid programs. This early intervention program helps people from families with incomes under $33,075 (where neither parent graduated from college) to better understand their educational opportunities and options. More than 363,000 students are enrolled in 466 Talent Search TRIO projects. According to the more recent data collected by the Department of Education, 79% of Talent Search participants were admitted to postsecondary institutions.

Upward Bound

Upward Bound helps youth prepare for higher education. Participants receive instruction in literature, composition, mathematics, and science on college campuses after school, on Saturdays and during the summer. Currently, 964 projects are in operation throughout the United States. In 2005, 77.3% of all students who participated in Upward Bound programs immediately went to college in the fall following their high school graduations. This rate is even higher by persistence in the program: 91.2% of Upward Bound students who particpated in the program for three years or longer and 93% who participated through high school graduation enrolled in a postsecondary program immediately following high school.

Upward Bound Math/Science

Upward Bound Math & Science helps students from low-income families to strengthen math and science skills. In addition, students learn computer technology as well as English, foreign language and study skills. Currently, 117 projects are serving students throughout the country. Overall, 86.5% of students who participated in Upward Bound Math/Science programs go directly to college after graduating from high school. Indeed, 70% of Upward Bound Math/Science programs have postsecondary enrollments of 80% or higher.

Veterans Upward Bound

The Veterans Upward Bound program provides intensive basic skills development and short-term remedial courses for military veterans to helps them successfully transition to postsecondary education. Veterans learn how to secure support from available resources such as the Veterans Administration, veterans associations, and various state and local agencies that serve veterans.

TRiO offers seven educational outreach programs that are designed to motivate, support and advocate for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Many of the students that receive help through the TRiO programs may otherwise not have the opportunity for an education beyond high school. Training programs were also established to educate individuals and organizations regarding the objectives of TRiO. The programs provided by TRiO can be found in over 1,200 colleges, universities, and other agencies in America, and assists students in conquering not only economic difficulty, but class, social and cultural barriers, as well.

The TRiO programs have had a major impact on education in America, with over 2,800 programs currently serving nearly 840,000 low-income, first generation individuals. The TRiO programs are committed to providing an equal educational opportunity to all individuals and currently serve 22,000 disabled students and over 25,000 military veterans. Participant’s ethnic backgrounds vary with 37% Caucasian, 35% African-American, 19% Hispanic, 4% Native American, 4% Asian-American, and 1% listed as “Other,” which includes multiracial students.

In many communities, the TRiO Programs are some of the only programs available that help students to overcome the class, social, academic and cultural barriers to higher education. The educational and human services offered through the TRiO Programs are distinguishable from all other counseling programs in America because TRiO Programs are:


As most TRiO Programs serve fewer than 250 students, TRiO counselors have an opportunity to work one-on-one with each student. TRiO professionals get to know each student on a first-name basis. TRiO counselors are personally committed to the success of their students.

Consistent and Intense

TRiO Programs and TRiO Professionals are consistently available to their students. In fact, some TRiO programs enable students to meet with counselors during the summer, in the evening or on weekends. Many TRiO Professionals, as part of their specified program objectives, visit students at home to discuss courses or career plans

Performance Based

Each TRiO Program operates against specific, measurable outcome objectives as clearly defined in each approved grant proposal. TRiO Program Directors are held accountable and must meet their stated objectives each year to remain funded and able to help participants in their targeted service area.

Focused on Early Intervention

Two of the TRiO Programs, Talent Search and Upward Bound, are early intervention programs. These programs effectively reach students in grades six through 12 who have “college potential” but often do not recognize or understand their academic and career options beyond high school. Each year, these two programs keep thousands of promising young low-income and minority students in school and focused on career and college success.

Targeted Toward First Generation and Low-Income

Two-thirds of the students in the TRiO Programs come from families with incomes under 150% of the poverty level, where neither parent earned a baccalaureate degree. In most cases, parents have no higher education experience, do not understand the postsecondary process and do not necessarily value a higher education.

Reality Based

Like their students, many TRiO professionals had to overcome class, social, academic and cultural barriers to succeed in higher education. As a result, they can effectively relate to their students and know how to motivate young people and adults in spite of the obstacles that often serve to discourage students from low-income families.

Built on Relationships

Over a period of several months or years, TRiO Professionals build both personal and professional relationships with their students. Such positive relationships are critical to the success of every TRiO Program. The staff of each TRiO Program creates a climate of support for students as they strive to move out of poverty and dependence. As a result of these strong positive relationships, many TRiO college graduates periodically return to their programs to encourage and inspire current students.

Committed to Tough Cases

In most cases, students in the TRiO Programs are poor and are desperately trying to climb out of “the vicious cycle of poverty in America.” Many students come to TRiO from neighborhoods that are filled with violence, discouragement, negativity and hopelessness. A single parent raising several children, an older child helping to raise younger siblings, a physically-disabled person with few financial resources and a struggling high school student trying to escape a life of poverty describe the young people and adults who turn to the TRiO programs for assistance.

Community Based

Community need is determined by the community, not the federal government. TRiO Programs are funded based on clear evidence that the program is needed in a particular community or town. Criteria used in determining need in a specific area include income level, education attainment level, dropout rates, student to counselor ratio, social and economic conditions, and overall demographic data.

Comprehensive and Cultural

The academic and human services as administered through the TRiO Programs are comprehensive and must go far beyond the traditional services offered by high school or college counselors. Many students in the TRiO Programs receive instruction in literature, composition, foreign languages, mathematics and science. In addition, students receive assistance in completing college admission and financial aid applications, tutorial services and exposure to cultural events.


TRiO Programs do not involve a large federal bureaucracy because they are direct grant programs funded in rank order on the basis of competitive proposals. In fact, there is no more than one federal employee for every 28,000 TRiO students now being served. In addition, TRiO Programs only exist where local organizations see the need for such services and have successfully applied for federal support. Despite substantial increases in the number of TRiO students and programs, fewer federal employees are working with TRiO today than 20 years ago.

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