Three woman smiling at camera holding painted rocks

TRIO Rocks!

Anne Matthews News

COOS BAY, Ore. – Since Covid-19 has radically changed the way students connect with each other in our community, the TRIO staff at Southwestern Oregon Community College (SWOCC) has been extra-creative finding ways to safely engage their students in learning and community service opportunities.

Southwestern received its first TRIO grant in 1991 and now has four TRIO projects that serve almost 1,300 families in Coos, Curry and western Douglas County. Students who participate in TRIO programs are twice as likely to enroll in and graduate from college than students from similar backgrounds who do not receive services. TRIO programs, funded by the US Department of Education, have been providing valuable, supportive services for over 50 years to students who are first-generation college students or who meet income guidelines, to help them successfully enter college and graduate. TRIO Talent Search and Upward Bound pre-college programs provide valuable services to middle school and high school students including assistance in choosing a college, tutoring, personal and financial counseling, career counseling, assistance in applying to college, workplace and college visits and assistance in applying for financial aid. TRIO Student Support Services at the college level is an academic support program for students that provides a designated computer lab and study area, career exploration, academic advising and transfer planning, financial aid and scholarship assistance, a lending library with textbooks and laptops, peer mentoring and tutoring, campus visits to Oregon’s four-year schools, and cultural enrichment activities.

Although TRIO has not been able to offer the popular college campus visits for students to explore their options, there are still ways for students to safely participate in new experiences. For example, in January, North Bend High School (NBHS) TRIO students challenged Marshfield High School (MHS) TRIO to a virtual College Lingo Bingo match. The NBHS team won Scoops gift certificates and the chance to see the MHS TRIO advisor get “pied” on video! However, MHS was victorious in a February rematch so their team got ice cream and the NBHS TRIO advisors got pie in the face.

In addition to those friendly and hilarious competitions, a small group of TRIO students from our middle schools, high schools, and SWOCC participated in a socially distancedTRIO Rocks! rock painting project on February 27th at a local park. Students decorated rocks with amazing art and positive words to hide all over town and bring a smile to the people in our community. If you find a rock with a “TRIO Rocks” sticker on the bottom, please be sure to send a photo of it to #TRIORocks!

If we can’t make our annual trip to the Wildlife Safari in Winston, no problem, the Safari will come to us! Next month, Wildlife Safari will bring a Cheetah Ambassador to town and give TRIO a special outdoor program about cheetahs and their world-renowned cheetah breeding program. Whether it’s a pie in the face or traveling cheetahs, TRIO finds ways to keep our students connected and interested.

All of Southwestern’s TRIO programs have an opportunity to serve more students in our community. If you, or someone you know, could benefit from TRIO, please call 541-888-7223 and let them know if you want information for a middle school, high school, or college student.