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Talent Search program at Virginia Tech wins new round of funding


   

A group of high school students from Talent Search in 2011 Back row, from left, Kimberly Vest, of North Tazewell, Graham High School; Robert Hurd, of Blacksburg, Blacksburg High School; Spencer Gravely, of Floyd, Floyd High School; Kayla Austin, of Pilot, Auburn High School; Heather Rorrer, of Dublin, Pulaski County High School; Diamond Pollard, of Lynchburg, E.C. Glass High School; and, front row, Jamar Wagner, of Christiansburg, Christiansburg High School.


BLACKSBURG, Va., July 26, 2011 – Faring well even during a time of federal budget cuts, Virginia Tech’s Talent Search program has earned a five-year funding grant of approximately $1.6 million, renewing its outreach to middle and high school students in Southwest Virginia.

“We’ve received notice that our U.S. Department of Education grant renewal will give us approximately $300,000 each year for five years,” says Tom Wilson, the program’s director. “Our budget request was funded with just a 3 percent cut. We’re relieved and grateful that we’ll be able to serve almost as many students as we did last year.”

Upward Bound and Talent Search at Virginia Tech are federally funded programs designed to assist high school students in making the transition from high school to college. Thousands of students in Southwest Virginia have benefited from the services of the program since 1967. Upward Bound has been at Virginia Tech since that year; Talent Search since 1973. Funding for Talent Search was last renewed in 2007. (Upward Bound’s new grant request occurs in 2012.)

Both Upward Bound and Talent Search target students from families with parents who did not earn four-year degrees or on the basis of financial need. If students show potential for college, they can receive tutoring and other support as early as middle school. Students who participate in the program are much more likely to graduate from college than they would be without the help.

“We would like for parents to know that college is possible for anyone and can be affordable,” Wilson says. “And we work very hard to impress upon the schools that we can provide assistance to students who need extra support when they’re thinking about whether they can go after the dream of a college education.”

This past May, more than two dozen young scholars from the region’s middle and high schools were honored with a banquet on campus. During the new grant cycle, Talent Search will be serving an additional school: Heritage High School in Lynchburg.

Virginia Tech’s Outreach and International Affairs supports the university’s engagement mission by creating community partnerships and economic development projects, offering professional development programs and technical assistance, and building collaborations to enrich discovery and learning – all with the overarching goal of improving the quality of life for people within the commonwealth and throughout the world. Outreach and International Affairs leads Virginia Tech’s presence on five continents; its regional research and development centers across the commonwealth focus on graduate education and professional development. Blacksburg-based centers are dedicated to student engagement, language, policy, and governance.