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WCC awarded $1.3 million to prepare high school students for college success

The 5-year U.S. Department of Education grant supports low-income, first-generation college students

Post Date:07/18/2017 9:10 a.m.

Bellingham, Wash. – Whatcom Community College will be awarded a $1,287,500 U.S. Department of Education TRIO grant called Upward Bound. The five-year grant will help local low-income high school students who are potentially the first in their family to attend college prepare for and achieve college success. Whatcom is the only Upward Bound grant awardee in northwest Washington state; this is the first TRIO grant the College has received.

“Many of Whatcom’s students are the first in their families to attend college,” said WCC President Kathi Hiyane-Brown. “They greatly benefit from the support services Upward Bound provides, like tutoring, mentors and summer programming. This grant leverages the College’s efforts to ensure these students are successful with their dreams of a college education.”

WCC’s Upward Bound program will serve 60 students total each year from Ferndale, Windward, Mount Baker, and Nooksack Valley high schools. The program will feature a partnership with Futures Northwest, a non-profit that provides scholarship resources and mentoring for students in underserved communities. Compared to Washington state census averages, the area this program will serve is lower in terms of income level, adult education level, and college enrollment rates, but higher in high school dropout rates and student-to-counselor ratios.

“Students are often faced with multiple barriers that impede college access and success, including high school dropout and graduation hurdles,” said Vice President for Student Services Luca Lewis. “Our strategy with school district partners and Futures NW through this grant will address academic, social, and economic barriers, and over a five-year period will help prepare 300 of our local students for college success.”

The program will provide Saturday workshops and tutoring, individualized student education plans, mentoring, and milestone checks. The program will also feature a six-week summer program for 9th-11th graders on Whatcom’s campus and a six-week summer bridge program with intensive advising and a tuition-free two-credit course for 12th graders. The program will help students select courses, improve financial literacy, assist in financial aid and college application processes, and provide connections to dual enrollment options. It will also offer college tours, cultural events, and career exploration. Students who participate in the program will be prepared to apply to any college following high school.

To be eligible to apply for the program, students need to be enrolled at one of the participating high schools, eligible for their school’s free or reduced-price lunch program, and/or a first-generation college student (neither parent has a bachelor’s degree). The program begins fall 2017; more information, including how to participate, will be posted to at that time.

About Whatcom: Whatcom Community College is a regionally and nationally accredited college with an accomplished faculty and staff who serve 11,000 students annually. On its campus in Bellingham, Wash., and through online courses, Whatcom offers transfer and professional-technical degrees as well as basic education, job skills training, and community education classes. The College is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017. For more information, visit

Contact: Marisa Ellis, Whatcom Community College PIO, 360.383.3310,

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