Triton gets $260K to shore up support programs

Funding among 'largest AmeriCorps investment' in state history

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By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

In the upcoming school year, about two dozen people will work part-time offering tutoring and mentoring services at Triton College, thanks to a $260,000 state grant, Triton officials announced in a statement released last week.

The part-time workers will all be members of AmeriCorps, a "network of national service programs, made up of three primary programs that each take a different approach to improving lives and fostering civic engagement," according to the organization's website.

Members of AmeriCorps dedicate a certain amount of service hours to addressing "critical community needs like increasing academic achievement, mentoring youth, fighting poverty, sustaining national parks, preparing for disasters, and more."

In Triton's case, 24 part-time AmeriCorps members will complete more than 900 service hours throughout the school year, school officials said.

The AmeriCorps members will work in a range of student service and mentoring programs, including a program called TRIUMPH (Triton Undergraduate Men Pursuing Higher Education), which is designed to support male students of color who attend the community college.

The members will also help out with tutoring and mentoring programs formed from collaborations between Triton and various community organizations like the Oak Park Public Library and West 40.

The state grant is administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health's Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service and consists of federal and local matching funds, according to a statement released by Triton last week.

In addition to a stipend, the AmeriCorps members will receive additional financial assistance for education-related expenses, such as help paying tuition and student loans, once they complete their service hours, Triton official said.

"This is an exciting opportunity for Triton College to expand on strategic plan items that we have not otherwise had the resources or the manpower to expand," Deborah Baness King, Triton's dean of academic success, explained in the statement.

"The Triton College AmeriCorps State Program will provide the human capital necessary to implement a comprehensive structure of support for our students that increases individualized services and connects students with a mentor/coach," King added.

According to Triton officials, Serve Illinois allocated more than $35 million in federal grant money to pay for 46 AmeriCorps service programs across the state. Triton is just one of four community colleges to receive funding.

"This is the largest AmeriCorps investment Illinois has ever seen in the history of the program," Serve Illinois Executive Director Scott McFarland explained in Triton's statement.

"Last year, AmeriCorps Illinois served nearly 400,000 Illinoisans, including more than 209,000 disadvantaged youth and nearly 40,000 veterans, active military and military family members," he said.

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com 

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