Teenage parents. Homeless youth. Low-income students.
The word “college” probably doesn’t spring to mind when you hear these labels but it should. At-risk teens are getting a second chance at education from the National Early Intervention Scholarship and Partnership Program.
The college-bound program provides “high-risk” students between $2,400-2,700 to be applied to their college financial aid package. The scholarship money comes out of the Higher Education Coordinating Board’s Washington State Need Grant fund.
In exchange for their dedicated participation in the program, teens also receive a $5 per hour hour stipend for up to eight hours each week during school and 16 hours in the summer.
Participants must sign a contract agreeing to remain drug-, crime- and alcohol-free; maintain a 2.0 grade point average; earn two and a half credits every semester and pass one grade each year; attend informational seminars; and perform four to six hours of community service each week.
Several high-risk teens will be accepted into the program this fall, said Dorie Munson, NEISP’s director. Eligible applicants include homeless teens, first generation college students, teenage parents and low-income youth (qualifying for free or reduced lunch). Also eligible are kids attending Chapter I schools (schools with a high proportion of students taking free or reduced lunch), or who belong to low income families.
But only those serious about attending college need apply. The desire for post-secondary education must be heartfelt, said Munson, an educational psychologist.
“I can’t change somebody’s mind or family script about what to do with their lives or the value of education. We need kids who say ‘I think school’s important and I would like to attend (school) beyond high school.’ Then I can work with that student,” she said.
Information sessions are held each week covering a wealth of topics: developmental behavior (social behavior, how to set goals, how to think about college), financial aid, preparation for the ACT, SATs and other pre-college exams, career options and how to handle class struggles. Students also take field trips to college campuses, including several schools on the west side of the state.
NEISP is funded by the Department of Education in Washington D.C., and the Higher Education Coordinating Board in Olympia. It has two sites in northeastern Washington - Spokane and Inchelium. The Spokane program, located in the Havermale Alternative Center, 1300 W. Knox, will have 17 openings in the fall. Inchelium, located on the Colville Indian Reservation will have 12 openings.
The program needs help in several areas. NEISP students are required to perform volunteer service for a not-for-profit agency. Most of the teens choose their own worksite, but agencies needing volunteers should call NEISP to give a heads up. The only agency requirement is to understand that the teens’ first commitment is school, so the hours need to be flexible.
Mentors for the students are also needed. Occupation doesn’t matter; as long as mentors truly believe in higher education, they are eligible, said Munson. Anyone interested in giving motivational speeches should contact NEISP.
Applications will be available next week For more information, call Munson at 354-6474, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
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