$150G grant to help UMass, LHS get kids in college

08/07/2007
By Used with permission from the Lowell Sun Online.

By REBECCA PIRO
Sun Staff

LOWELL - With the help of a grant, Lowell High School and the University of Massachusetts Lowell are partnering to increase the number of young people pursuing college degrees.

The Nellie Mae Education Foundation's College Prep initiative will give the two institutions $150,000 in the first year to improve students' college preparation and expand the number of students who pursue higher education.

The grant will continue for five years and encourage graduates' enrollment at UMass Lowell, as well as other higher-education institutions.

'Through this grant, our faculty and Lowell High School teachers will work closely to coordinate their course content and will concentrate on strong preparation for college,' said UMass Lowell Provost John Wooding. 'As partners, we share the same desire to see our students fully develop their abilities and understanding of the world that awaits them.'

About 75 percent of Lowell High School's nearly 4,000 students enroll in a two- or four-year college after graduation, while the remaining students enter the work force, enroll in a business or technical school, or enlist in the military.

The percentage of Lowell High School students opting for a college education slipped from about 87 percent four years ago, because fewer students can afford to go, said Headmaster Bill Samaras.

The grant will pay for a full-time employee at the high school dedicated to helping students understand how to apply for financial aid and what they need to do academically to get into college, Samaras added.

The grant also will support the institutions' dual-enrollment program, which allows LHS students to take college-level courses though UMass Lowell during their junior and senior years of high school.

Other partnerships to receive the same grant are the University of Massachusetts Boston and the Dorchester Education Complex; Clark University and the University Park Campus School; and the University of Maine at Presque Isle and Caribou High School. Grant recipients will work together to design, implement and share the best practices to improve college preparation.