LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas Center for Educational Opportunity Programs (CEOP) has been awarded a five-year, $2.37 million project to serve 175 students across KU and three additional institutions of higher education.
Funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Migrant Education, the Heartland College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP), a college first-year success program, expands upon the two-decade legacy of CEOP supporting the children of migrant agricultural workers. Heartland CAMP’s goal is to help students from migratory agricultural backgrounds start college on a strong path to break the cycle of poverty and interrupted schooling that often accompany this agricultural work.
“Even when students from these backgrounds are accepted into college, if they do not have the full range of support services, the likelihood of their success is disproportionately diminished,” said CEOP director Ngondi Kamaṱuka. “A confluence of socioeconomic disadvantages works against these students, but this program provides the type of support system that can make all the difference between staying in school and thriving, and dropping out.”
The CAMP grant administered by CEOP joins more than 50 other CAMPs nationally and will serve eligible students at KU and at Kansas City Kansas Community College, Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska, and Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City, Iowa. The four schools have strong histories of working with first-generation and low-income students, especially through federally funded TRIO Student Support Services programs.
Under the leadership of CAMP director Stacy Mendez, 175 students at the four institutions will receive a first-year scholarship and laptop award as well as intensive, holistic advising, academic supports and community building opportunities.
“We know from research that a successful transition during the first year of college is crucial to students returning for their sophomore year and earning their degree,” Mendez said. “We also know that students from migratory agricultural backgrounds come to college with unique strengths gained from their life experiences, families and communities. One of our goals is to help our first-year students recognize and tap into those strengths to successfully transition to college.”
As a first-year transition program, CAMP connects students to other student support programs and education resources to ensure they have the resources they need to complete a college degree. The impact of support during the first year of college is crucial.
Looking back at starting her journey as a Jayhawk, Tanya Sánchez said, “As a first-generation freshman, having the support of CAMP was my biggest comfort and best resource.”
Sánchez earned a bachelor’s degree in human biology from KU in 2020 and, thanks in part to the support from CAMP, she is continuing her education at UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry.
“I am so grateful to have been a part of Heartland CAMP,” she said. “It helped me become a confident student.”
Photo: 2019 cohort of CAMP Scholars at the University of Kansas. Credit: Laura Kingston.