TRIO Student Support Services at Washington State University Tri-Cities and WSU Pullman were recently approved for $2.53 million and $1.375 million in grants, respectively, that will support the three programs throughout the next five years.

WSU TRIO programs provide support, tutoring and mentorship services to students from disadvantaged backgrounds. To qualify for the program, students must be a first-generation college student, from an economically disadvantaged background or have a documented disability.

“The ultimate goal and mission of TRIO is to not only retain students from disadvantaged backgrounds, but ensure their degree completion and a successful transition into the workforce or graduate school,” said Stassia Feltes, director of the WSU Tri-Cities TRIO program and writer of the Tri-Cities TRIO Student Support Services grants.

Feltes said TRIO adds value to the students’ college experience because the program provides community and support to students from similar backgrounds to enhance their sense of belonging on campus.

“We increase confidence in our students and are committed to student success,” she said. “At TRIO, your success is our commitment.”

New STEM programming at WSU Tri-Cities

WSU Tri-Cities was awarded two grants totaling $2.53 million. In addition to qualifying for funds to support another five years of regular student support services programming in the amount of $1.27 million, the campus qualified for an additional $1.27 million grant to support services for students in STEM or health sciences degree programs.

“The new STEM grant is targeted to support 120 additional eligible students here at WSU Tri-Cities,” Feltes said. “We are excited to be able to serve more students and help them reach their academic and career goals.”

Some of the programming that the STEM and health sciences grant will support include additional STEM supplemental instructors and an undergraduate research course that will partner with faculty on current research to prepare students for STEM and health science careers and internships. Additionally, the grant supports faculty and professional mentoring in STEM, STEM projects ranging from digital application development to virtual reality, support for STEM conferences and STEM professional mentors from the community. The grant funds also support the hire of an additional full-time STEM student success specialist, hourly peer advisors and an hourly office assistant.

Feltes said WSU is not letting the COVID-19 pandemic stand in the way of providing college success and support resources for students. All of the programming, she said, will continue to be offered virtually.

“We need more diversity in STEM majors and careers, and with TRIO, we can strengthen the pathway for students to pursue their goals and provide increased diversity within the STEM community,” she said.

The TRIO program received grants in the 2010-2015 and 2015-2020 grant cycles, and now two for the 2020-2025 cycle. The program has helped hundreds of students since 2010.

Heightened focus on career development and graduate education

The WSU Pullman TRIO program is the longest-standing such program in the WSU system. Its recently awarded grant marks the program’s fifth successful grant cycle since 2000.

“It’s a cornerstone program at WSU,” said Lucila Loera-Herrera, executive director for the WSU Pullman Office for Access and Opportunity. “Student Support Services alums participated in a recent retreat and many of them are getting PhDs, some are even working in TRIO programs across the nation. They are always enthusiastic to talk about the impact of their WSU experience.”

Loera-Herrera said the WSU Pullman program, too, won’t let the pandemic stand in its way of providing a quality experience through the program.

“In this virtual world, we were more deliberate in setting that up and we have to be much more intentional in making connections and bridging students to resources,” she said. “Services will all be remote.”

With the new WSU Pullman TRIO grant, Angie Klimko, WSU Pullman TRIO Student Support Services director, said they put a heavier emphasis on career development and graduate education.

“Our students need more structure for learning why graduate education is important and the pathway to get there,” she said.

Visit the WSU Tri-Cities and WSU Pullman TRIO program websites for more information.