TRiO Programs

TRiO programs include Student Support Services, Educational Talent Search and Upward Bound. The U.S. Congress established the three programs aiming to improve college access and graduation rates for underrepresented citizens. TRiO programs are funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. The programs are helping students overcome economic, education and social barriers to high education.

Trio Program


Student Support Services

The goal in Student Support Services is to retain and graduate students who are first-generation, low-income and/or disabled by ensuring they receive every possible opportunity to succeed. A wide variety of services are provided for FREE to 600 students. SSS strives to create a comfortable and supportive learning environment to ensure equal opportunities for success at Gadsden State.

Who can join SSS?

Any student currently enrolled at Gadsden State may apply for the SSS program. According to federal guidelines, every eligible student must have an academic need and meet at least one of the following qualifications:

  • Financial aid / low-income student
  • First-generation college student (neither parent graduated from a four-year college)
  • Student with a documented disability

Why should students join SSS?

SSS, which is federally-funded by the U.S. Department of Education, helps qualified students be successful in college by providing the following services:

  • Tutoring – Subjects include English, math, science, computer and accounting
  • Advisement – Assistance in scheduling classes that work toward graduation or transfer
  • Workshops – Financial literacy, test taking, stress management and more
  • Technology – A computer lab to use, assistance with computer-based courses and free printing
  • Campus visits – Visit four-year college and universities that interest you
  • Cultural trips – Travel with SSS to museums, theaters and other cultural events
  • Scholarships – Limited funds are available based on eligibility and need

Will SSS lead to success? 

Since the inception of the Student Support Services at Gadsden State, many students have succeeded in completing college and earning  direct-entry into the workforce or transferring to a four-year university.

  • 81% of SSS student persisted from one year to the next year (2015-2017 APR data)
  • 97% of SSS students are in good academic standing (2017 APR)
  • 322 SSS students graduated from GSCC and 12% transferred to a 4 year school (2015-2017 APR)

SSS Offices


Melissa Davis, director


Student Support Services operates through an award of $948,908 for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Upward Bound 

Upward Bound is an intensive college preparatory support project designed to provide low-income, first-generation high school students encouragement and the essential skills needed to complete high school and earn a post-secondary degree. Like all TRiO programs, it is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and has been on the Wallace Drive Campus since 1973.

What are the benefits of Upward Bound?

Upward Bound provides instruction and activities through educational, cultural and travel enrichment opportunities, including:

  • Study skills development
  • Academic, financial and personal counseling
  • Tutoring
  • Cultural and social activities
  • Information about post-secondary education opportunities
  • College visits
  • Assistance with financial aid applications
  • Preparation for college entrance exams

What are the phases of Upward Bound?

Three phases of Upward Bound programming is available to high school students:

  • Academic Phase – Consists of 12 Saturday sessions that meet twice a month, normally on the first and second Saturdays. The academic phase is designed to enhance the student’s skills in their high school core classes. Tutoring is provided during this phase as well as after school.
  • Summer Phase – A six-week program scheduled during June and July. The summer phases affords students a simulated college experience that includes residential houses. Special features of the program are life skills, research projects, college tours and career, health and professional counseling. Plus, the phase ends with a trip to a major U.S. destination that provides exposure to colleges and universities, historical sites and different cultures.
  • Career Work Study Program – The program is offered during the summer phase. Rising juniors and seniors are involved in a work study program that allows participants the opportunity to work in an environment that reflects their career choice while being paid by the Upward Bound program. Students are placed in part-time jobs on campus and within the community. They are given the opportunity to experience hands-on knowledge of various careers. Upward Bound graduates are enrolled in a pre-paid college course at Gadsden State. Graduates have the opportunity to experience the process of admissions, placement testing, registration and advisement.

What is the Upward Bound application process?

Applications are taken from interested students (preferably freshmen and sophomores) within the high school target areas, including Etowah, Gadsden, Gaston and Glencoe. Applications can be obtained from the high school counselors at those schools.

Students must meet the eligibility requirements mandated by the U.S. Department of Education for Acceptance. Documentation is required and accepted from the student’s family, school or governmental agency.

Once selected, participants and a guardian are required to attend an Upward Bound orientation conducted by the program director. An academic plan is initiated at the orientation in order to outline the program’s expectation for educational success.

Upward Bound Office

Inzer Student Center, Top Floor in Room 219
7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday
7:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Friday


Pat Rutledge, director



Talent Search

Educational Talent Search is a federally-funded program designed to help participants succed in secondary and postsecondary education. Students in grades 6-12 are assisted in getting through high school as well as enrolling in college or career technical training. Secondary or postsecondary dropouts are also assisted in re-enrolling in school or in obtaining a GED.

What are the benefits of Educational Talent Search?

ETS provides a number of services to program participants, including:

  • Academic, financial, career or personal counseling
  • Career exploration and aptitude assessment
  • Tutorial services
  • Information on post-secondary education
  • Exposure to college campuses and cultural activities
  • Information on student financial assistance
  • Assistance in completing college admissions and financial aid applications
  • Assistance in preparing for college entrance exams
  • Mentoring programs
  • Workshops for the families of the participants


Who qualifies for Educational Talent Search?

ETS identifies and assists eligible students who have the potential to succeed in higher education. Schools serviced by ETS include:

  • Etowah Middle School (grades 6-8)
  • Etowah High School (grades 9-12)
  • Emma Sansom Middle School (grades 6-8)
  • Gadsden Middle School (grades 6-8)
  • Litchfield Middle School (grades 6-8)
  • Gadsden City High School (grades 9-12)
  • West End High School (grades 7-12)

What’s the application process for Educational Talent Search?

Students interested in applying for Talent Search may do so by submitting an online application here. Please note that both the Student and Parent sections must be completed in order for the application to be processed. Students and families selected for participation will be notified by program staff.

ETS Office

Inzer Student Center, Top Floor
7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday-Thursday
7:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Friday


Keith Robinson, director