The New England Association of College Admission Counseling (NEACAC) has awarded a grant to the Feinstein Institute for Public Service’s EXPLORE! Program at Providence College.
EXPLORE! promotes awareness of, access to, and readiness for college among first-generation, urban high school students while, at the same time, supporting and enhancing the educational experiences of PC students.
Heather Whitney, service learning coordinator in the Feinstein Institute, said the College’s newly adopted Strategic Plan makes increasing diversity a high priority. “The purpose of EXPLORE! is to educate students early in their high school career about the path to college, aiming to make college a viable option in the eyes of low-income students,” she said.
The NEACAC is a resource for New England college professionals that aids in developing and providing services, programs, and opportunities for members so they can serve and assist students in their transition from high school to college.
The association’s Make a Difference Fund awarded PC a $1,000 grant to acknowledge the EXPLORE! program. The grant was used to support the program’s on-campus, end-of-the-year luncheon celebration for participants and their family members.
Stephanie Nunes, AmericaCorps VISTA representative in the Feinstein Institute, has been developing EXPLORE! for four years. She said that the initiative is a full academic year college access program that is segmented to allow the College’s student volunteers to focus their work on the aspiring college students.
A year-long exploration
“This year, a student from our first EXPLORE! class is attending PC, and we hope EXPLORE! can continue to be a part of the College’s plan to increase diversity on campus,” said Whitney.
The program had 20 to 25 PC student volunteers and 30 to 40 high school participants from four local high schools. Whitney explained that the volunteers promote the program’s three-fold vision:
• to help students develop an understanding of their interests, abilities, and goals and identify strategies for achieving these goals;
• to help students become familiar with the academic skills needed for college and other aspects of college preparedness; and
• to expose students to the college experience by engaging with college students and learning about the range of academic, personal, and social opportunities that a college education can provide.
The EXPLORE! Program has various community partners that include Mount Pleasant, St. Patrick Academy, and Times² Academy high schools in Providence and Shea High in Pawtucket.
In the fall semester, Providence College students visit the schools to engage in a variety of formal and informal programming structured around a unique college readiness curriculum. This programming continues in the spring semester and is supplemented with a shadowing day at PC in February and a three-day, content-oriented workshop program in April.
On the final day of the April program, parents are invited to campus to speak with a college readiness counselor about how they can prepare their children for college and to take part in a graduation ceremony and luncheon.
Nunes said the grant not only allowed the College to celebrate the students’ accomplishments, but “it also allows us to invite more people who have provided support for the program so that they may be present to recognize the accomplishments of the participants while being a part of EXPLORE!”
— Genevieve Marie Ilg ’14