The program, targeted at low-income, at-risk, and first-generation college hopefuls, is designed to provide free college-readiness, financial aid and tutoring services that support and motivate students to complete high school and pursue a post-secondary program.

A new grant awarded to State Fair Community College will serve a total of 60 eligible high school students from the Camdenton and Eldon school districts, local education officials announced last week.

The local community college was awarded a total of $267,500 from the United States Department of Education for the expansion of an Upward Bound program in the Lake area, adding to its program headquartered at Smith-Cotton High School in Sedalia, which has been active for the last 14 years.

The program, targeted at low-income, at-risk, and first-generation college hopefuls, is designed to provide free college-readiness, financial aid and tutoring services that support and motivate students to complete high school and pursue a post-secondary program. The grant is funded per year, in an anticipated five-year cycle, that would last from September 1, 2017, through August 31, 2018.

“Upward Bound is an excellent program that provides tutoring, student success course, pro-active academic counseling, financial literary counseling, cultural experiences, and more that help students succeed,” Dr. Brent Bates, SFCC Vice President for Educational and Student Support Services, said. “We are excited to partner with the high schools in Eldon and Camdenton and to help their students achieve their goals, not just in education but throughout their lives.”

Officials with SFCC held two press conferences last week at Eldon and Camdenton High Schools, announcing and explaining the award and goals for the program. Dr. Ryan Neal, assistant superintendent at Camdenton R-III School District, and Matt Davis, superintendent at Eldon School District, worked with SFCC in applying for the grant, the only new grant funded for the State of Missouri, according to SFCC President Dr. Joanna Anderson said.

“SFCC provides support for our students in many ways. Currently, it provides our students with the opportunity to graduate high school with an Associates of Arts degree,” Davis noted. “Our students can also enroll in the Nursing or Industrial Technology programs offered at the SFCC-Eldon campus. The Upward Bound support services will offer even more opportunities for our students to be successful in life.”

SFCC Upward Bound Director Jeromy Layman, a graduate of the Upward Bound program, has been chosen to lead the new effort in the Lake area. Layman explained how the services offered through Upward Bound provided him with cultural experiences that he would have never experienced in the town of Sedalia and led him to a career in serving students.

Students in the program qualify for numerous services at no additional cost to them or their families. These services come in the form of academic tutors, financial aide literacy and field trips around the country, as well as local universities, in the hopes of aspiring students who may not have all the information or resources to make a positive decision on their future.

Layman said students do not have to commit or promise to attend State Fair Community College while participating in the program, and encourages students to look at the best options available.

“We’re ready to hit the ground running,” he said. “This is going to be a great thing for these two school districts and we’re excited to be a part of it.”