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ASPIRE, Inc.’s mission is to increase the educational and success opportunities for low-income and first-generation college students though advocacy, professional development, and legislative awareness.
The Early History of ASPIRE
In Denver during the fall of 1976, personnel from the forty-eight TRiO programs in Federal Region VIII contributed $2 each toward the expenses of a committee whose purpose was to organize a professional organization. That night, a group of the faithful gathered in a hotel room to come up with a name for the new association. After numerous suggestions that produced unpronounceable acronyms, “Association of Special Programs in Region Eight — ASPIRE” was chosen.
TRiO was less than 10 years old, and was administered entirely through the regional offices. Project personnel had been unaware of the forces that influence funding for their programs, but slowly began to realize the need for a coordinated national effort to effect funding, to communicate about issues, and to provide training. ASPIRE was joining an emerging movement among TRIO personnel nationally.
In 1977, ASPIRE organizers disseminated “News Flashes” that contained information about efforts of TRiO personnel in obtaining the FY 1977 increase and encouraged project personnel to write letters and support the effort for the increase in the FY 1978 appropriation. In addition, three proposal writing workshops were held, and ASPIRE mounted its first conference in Park City, Utah in October.
Much has transpired in the years since. The Association of Special Programs in Region Eight is now ASPIRE, Inc. It has matured into a professional organization serving over 500 staff members in 127 projects. ASPIRE continues to support its members with professional development, timely information relating to national issues, and its members advocate at the state and national levels on behalf of our programs and participants.
What is TRiO?
TRIO is Educational Opportunity for Low-Income and Disabled Americans.
Our nation has asserted a commitment to providing educational opportunity for all Americans regardless of race, ethnic background or economic circumstance. In support of this commitment, Congress established a series of programs to help low-income Americans enter college, graduate and move on to participate more fully in America’s economic and social life. These Programs are funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 and are referred to as the TRIO Programs (initially just three programs). While student financial aid programs help students overcome financial barriers to higher education, TRIO programs help students overcome class, social and cultural barriers to higher education.
As mandated by Congress, two-thirds of the students served must come from families with incomes under $28,000, where neither parent graduated from college. More than 2,700 TRIO Programs currently serve nearly 866,000 low-income Americans. Many programs serve students in grades six through 12. Thirty-seven percent of TRIO students are Whites, 35% are African-Americans, 19% are Hispanics, 4% are Native Americans, 4% are Asian-Americans, and 1% are listed as “Other,” including multiracial students. Twenty-two thousand students with disabilities and more than 25,000 U.S. veterans are currently enrolled in the TRIO Programs as well.
Over 1,000 colleges, universities, community colleges, and agencies now offer TRIO Programs in America. TRIO funds are distributed to institutions through competitive grants.
Students in the Upward Bound program are four times more likely to earn an undergraduate degree than those students from similar backgrounds who did not participate in TRIO; nearly 20 percent of all Black and Hispanic freshmen who entered college in 1981 received assistance through the TRIO Talent Search or EOC programs; students in the TRIO Student Support Services program are more than twice as likely to remain in college than those students from similar backgrounds who did not participate in the program.
For more information about TRiO from the Council for Opportunity in Education, click here.