PECO Funding Supports Student Access and Success Initiatives

PECO presented $20,000 to Montgomery County Community College on Aug. 12 in support of two programs that focus on educational access and success for youth and young adults Montgomery County.

The funding enables the College to connect its students participating in the Minority Male Mentoring Program with high school students participating its Upward Bound Program. By establishing a mentor-mentee relationship throughout the year, the program looks to instill increased confidence and self-esteem for both sets of students, while providing them with skills and support that enable them to meet their educational goals.

“Montgomery County Community College is committed to expanding access and increasing student success by reducing barriers to enrollment and increasing the ability of all students to reach their learning goals,” said College President Dr. Karen A. Stout. “By building a bridge that both connects and strengthens the Minority Male Mentoring and Upward Bound programs, the College is able to impact students at a greater number of points along their educational journey.”

In fall 2009, the College piloted the Minority Male Mentoring Program to increase the persistence and completion rate of minority male students who are enrolled in two or more pre-college courses. The program connects volunteer faculty and staff mentors with minority male students, who, according to the College’s research, are most at risk for not completing their courses or programs of study.

Through an ongoing mentor-mentee relationship, students learn certain responsibilities, such as appearing for appointments with their mentors on time, calling in advance to cancel or reschedule meetings and committing to the year-long program. Approximately 92 percent of the students enrolled in the fall returned for the spring semester, and in most cases, they outperformed students from the same population who were not mentored.

The support from PECO enables the College to take the mentoring relationship one step further, by empowering and training the mentees from the Minority Male Mentoring Program to become mentors to the 50 high school students who are participating in the College’s Upward Bound Program.

“We are proud to support these programs, which are providing minority youth access to programs to help them succeed,” said Derrick Dickens, PECO manager of Field Operations.  “At PECO, we believe in investing in the leaders of tomorrow, and these programs not only benefit our youth today, they will have an impact for years to come.”

With funding support from the U.S. Department of Education, the four-year Upward Bound Program enables the College to partner with Pottstown and Norristown school districts to provide 50 at-risk high school students with intense academic, career and cultural experiences. The students participate in weekly activities and tutoring at their high schools during the school year, as well as an intensive, six-week program at the College each summer.

The purpose of the Upward Bound Program is to provide students without financial means the opportunity to develop the skills and persistence necessary to complete high school and enroll in post-secondary education.

In uniting the two programs for this initiative, the College’s students will mentors the Upward Bound students during the academic year. In addition to building relationships, the mentors will establish clear objectives and expectations for the high school students and conduct a series of workshops and open discussions that focused on strategies for educational and lifelong success.  Some examples include how to select high school classes and how to apply for College admission and financial aid.

“We deeply appreciate PECO’s continued support of the College’s programs that support the educational attainment of youth and young adults in Montgomery County,” said Dr. Stout.  “The impact of programs, like the Minority Male Mentoring Program and Upward Bound, will make a real difference in our communities for years to come.

~ by Diane VanDyke and Alana J. Mauger

from left, Dr. Janet Samuels, superintendent, Norristown School District; Derrick Dickens, manager field operations, PECO; Pa. Representative Thomas J. Quigley; Upward Bound student Olatunde Oladipo; Dr. Steady Moono, vice president of students affairs, MCCC; Stephen M. Toroney, Pottstown Borough Council President; Dr. Karen A. Stout, president, MCCC; Suzanne Ryan, county affairs manager, PECO; Dr. Reed Lindley, superintendent, Pottstown School District; and Dr. Victoria Bastecki-Perez, interim vice president of academic affairs and provost, MCCC. Photo by John Welsh

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