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VC receives $1.47 million TRIO Student Support Services grant to fund KEY Center for next five years

Pam Neuman

The United States Department of Education has selected Victoria College to receive a $1.47 million TRIO Student Support Services grant that will fund the KEY Center for the next five years.

“This grant allows Victoria College to continue providing support to first-generation, low-income and at-risk students,” said VC President Jennifer Kent. “Being a first-generation college student who benefitted from a TRIO program, I am living proof of how programs like VC’s KEY Center can transform lives.”

Victoria College was first awarded the TRIO Student Support Services grant in 2000 and has continued to receive it every five years since. The KEY Center provides individualized services, such as academic coaching, tutoring, career exploration, financial aid assistance and scholarships, to 165 eligible students each year to help them successfully complete their degree, certificate or transfer.

“The KEY Center is thrilled to receive the TRIO Student Support Services grant for another five years,” said Pam Neuman, KEY Center director. “This program helps many students overcome personal obstacles to achieve their goals of an associate degree, a certificate or the opportunity to transfer to a university. We serve around 165 students per year, so the number of students and graduates impacted by the KEY Center over the past two decades is well in the thousands.”

Bridget Thompson earned her Associate of Science degree this spring with help from the KEY Center.

“The KEY Center gave me the confidence and support I needed,” Thompson said. “The KEY Center is like a family. I very much appreciate the extra time and personal help that the tutors were always willing to give.”

Neuman said the KEY Center strives to provide an inviting atmosphere where students can be encouraged and feel a sense of belonging.

“Our activities are designed primarily for first-generation students who may face obstacles in navigating their educational journey,” Neuman said.

Victoria College will receive $294,725 in annual funding through 2025. The grant will account for 93 percent of the KEY Center’s total expenditures. Victoria College and the VC Foundation will contribute a cash match of $22,832 per year. The grant funds support three full-time employees – a director, counselor and academic advisor – and three to four part-time employees, including an administrative assistant and lead tutor. The grant will also go toward computers, laptops, iPads, calculators and school supplies to ensure students have tools at their disposal to complete their courses.

Victoria College was one of 1,131 colleges and universities to be awarded funding and one of only 16 percent of applicants to receive a perfect score.

“We scored as high as possible on both the core criteria and the prior experience points,” said Sophia Kameitjo, VC’s grants development director. “This speaks to our program’s quality and its ability to help students achieve their objectives year after year.”

Approximately 70 percent of the part-time students participating in the KEY Center graduate from Victoria College within a four-year timespan compared to 19 percent among all part-time community college students statewide.

“Our members are graduating at a much higher percentage when compared to community colleges students across the state,” Neuman said. “Thanks to this grant, we will be able to continue giving first-generation students the support they need to succeed in college.”

For information on Victoria College’s KEY Center, call (361) 582-2414 or email KEY@VictoriaCollege.edu.