Grant Funds Educational Opportunities for Bell County Students

Student receiving individual tutoring in a classroom settingPartners for Education at Berea College has been awarded a $257,000 Upward Bound grant to serve students at Bell County High School in Pineville, Kentucky. The grant, funded by the United States Department of Education, will provide 60 students in grades 9-12 with year-round academic support, enhanced learning opportunities and college and career readiness preparation.

During the school year, a counselor in the high school will work directly with the students to ensure access to tutoring, academic counseling and other services. Students will also be enrolled in a six-week summer program held on a college campus.

The summer program blends academic instruction in math, lab sciences, foreign languages and literature with a specialized curriculum designed to help students overcome the obstacles that might lead them to drop out of school. The program uses the successful “Why Try Curriculum” which focuses on building relationships with students and ensuring students see how what they learn is relevant to their future. Director of Programs at Partners for Education Jenny Ceesay says, “As an Upward Bound alum, I can attest to the impact the program can have on students.  I would have never seen myself as a college student—much less actually gone to college—without the guidance of my Upward Bound program.” Ceesay says the program works because it “uses experiential learning opportunities to help students explore and develop their interests and helps them develop skills to be successful in any future endeavor.”

Each student will receive an individualized course of instruction enabling them to work on areas of strength and weakness. Some classes will address skills essential for work readiness such as teamwork, communication, active listening and critical thinking, while others will provide enhanced ACT preparation.  Academic counselors will share information about the college application process, including how to find scholarships and apply for financial aid. Several times during the summer, students will travel to college campuses in the region to discover which institutions will best serve their needs. Opportunities for cultural enrichment, including live performances, will be included as well.

Partners for Education at Berea College uses a place-based, student-focused approach to improve educational outcomes in Appalachian Kentucky. By braiding services and aligning federal, state and private funding streams, Partners for Education works to ensure all Appalachian students succeed at school.