MAHONING VALLEY Program aims to make college more accessible

The program is still in the planning stages.
WARREN -- College may be more accessible this fall for students in Warren and Youngstown city schools.
Participants in the new Mahoning Valley College Access Program will learn the value of college and how to get there, said Marilyn Pogue, a consultant for the Raymond J. Wean foundation.
The foundation has partnered with other area businesses and the city school districts to provide the program.
The goal is to increase the number of students in Trumbull and Mahoning counties who continue their education beyond high school.
So far, MVCAP is still in the planning stages, though a board of directors has been formed. The board has already applied for nonprofit status and is currently hiring staff members. The program needs an executive director, an administrative assistant and two part-time financial aid advisors for the four high schools involved.
"We've looked around the state at what other college access programs are doing, what's been successful in other communities, and based our program on that," Pogue said.
MVCAP is one of over 40 college access programs either already available or in development in the state, all of which are part of the Ohio College Access Network.
Areas of focus: The program will focus on four areas: Financial aid, college resource centers, early awareness activities and "last dollar" scholarships for kids who need just a little more money to afford college.
"This will give students and their parents an awareness that college could be a part of their future and attainable financially," Pogue said.
The Wean foundation and the KnowledgeWorks foundation have financed the program's start-up costs, though they will soon be conducting a fund-raising campaign, Pogue said.
"Youngstown city and Warren city schools are the pilot programs in the fall," she said. "Our intent is to expand in the future as our budget allows."
Betty English, superintendent for the Warren city schools, said there has been interest in an area college access program for years.
"[The program] has certainly grown from an idea into a reality," she said. "So much is to be credited to the enthusiasm of the Wean foundation."

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