Special to the Register
Gainesville Independent School District Talent Search advisor Lauren Burton traveled to Washington, D.C., this week on behalf of “TRiO” programs.
The term “TRiO programs” refers to three federal programs — a number that increased later — that were developed in the 1960s to increase access to higher education. Burton and five University of North Texas (UNT) colleagues, along with TRiO representatives from around the country, visited and provided information to congressional offices, including that of U.S. representative Mac Thornberry and Texas senator Ted Cruz.
“I was so excited to be there,” Burton said. “Due to sequestration, our program is at risk of losing 5 percent of its federal funding. I went to ask our congresspersons to take action so this doesn’t happen.”
The budget sequestration, effective March 1, caused mandatory 5 percent cuts to discretionary federal programs. The cuts would mean a total loss of $42 million to TRiO programs nationally and could strip services from approximately 40,000 TRiO students.
“TRiO Talent Search” provides a head start in study skills, test prep and college and career exploration to more than 350 Gainesville ISD students in grades 6 through 12. Talent Search also provides free waivers for the ACT and SAT tests and free waivers for college applications. The program organizes the annual Gainesville High School (GHS) Financial Aid Night and contributes funding and staff to the Cooke County Youth Leadership Camp.
TRiO Upward Bound Math and Science (UBMS) also serves Gainesville ISD. Last summer, ten GHS students attended the free UBMS camp for five weeks on the University of North Texas (UNT) campus. Students improved their skills and explored careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. This year, Talent Search sent a record number of applications for the UBMS program. Both TRiO Talent Search and UBMS are housed at UNT.
Burton said she is both optimistic and cautionary about the future.
“Do I believe in reducing federal spending? Definitely,” she said. “But not at the expense of our students. TRiO programs create educated, employed taxpayers. At a time when everyone is worried about jobs, an investment in these programs is an investment in the future.”
If you would like to voice your support for the Gainesville TRiO Talent Search program, call Representative Mac Thornberry’s office at (202) 225-3706 or visit http://thornberry.house.gov/contact/ to send an e-mail.