Written by Trevor May
Willimantic, Conn. - This month, the Regional Education and Career Change Scholarship (REACH) received a $5,000 grant from the Eastern Connecticut Community Foundation to establish a pool of financial aid funds for adult students from towns in eastern Connecticut which the Community Foundation serves.
REACH offers $500 scholarships to returning adult students who qualify through an application process demonstrating financial need. The funds are awarded to individuals interested in completing a baccalaureate degree at Eastern Connecticut State University. Applicants are currently experiencing being unemployed, being underemployed, being a single parent or suffering from a serious illness.
These scholarships are for individuals who believe they need a bachelor's degree to get ahead in the job market but who cannot afford to pay for their education without needing loans. The goal was to increase access to a four-year degree to a professional credential, such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Certificate or a green certificate, which will make these students more employable in the emerging workplace.
Though $5,000 was granted, the REACH program allotted $3,000 of that grant to the fall 2011 semester and the $2,000 left will be distributed for the spring 2012 semester.
For the future, Eastern has again approached the foundation with ideas to expand the outreach to graduates of Three Rivers Community College. Events will be planned to make graduates of Three Rivers aware of how easy transferring to Eastern can be to complete a four-year degree. During these events, Eastern will encourage graduates by using individualized "degree-mapping" and personal testimony of recent Three Rivers and Eastern graduates who can talk about their success at Eastern.
One grateful recipient of a scholarship was asked, "If you had not received the REACH Scholarship, would you have been able to take the same number of credits this semester?" Their reply: "I may have, but being on a fixed income with two of us taking college courses and a third one working and paying off student loans, the REACH Scholarship is a big help."