California Lutheran University’s federally-funded TRIO grant pre-university program which encompasses Student Support Services, Upward Bound Math and Science and Veterans Upward Bound has been helping low-income and first-generation students succeed in college since 1965.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, TRIO continues to support the local community, but in broader ways—providing produce, internet access and connecting those in need with financial, residential and health resources.
“We also have a strong social media presence to inform families and our students of both online programming and ways that they can get involved in their communities,” Sergio Galvez, senior director of TRIO said. “This is also a good way to give students resources and information as it relates to pop up food pantries and other available support.”
Galvez has been part of the TRIO programs since 2005 and is himself an alumnus of Cal Lutheran’s Upward Bound and Student Support Services.
Galvez said he and the students enrolled in the TRIO program are helping out the community, distributing fresh produce to those in need.
“Through a partnership with Del Monte, we have been able to have our students/alumni give back, getting the word out to families and in some cases helping with the actual distribution of food,” Galvez said.
Galvez said TRIO relies on the U.S. Department of Education to stay informed, and said they have been conducting webinars to connect leaders of TRIO programs across the nation.
Galvez said using the crisis response information provided by the Department of Education, TRIO can use social media to inform and reach out to the community and students with resources available to them.
“Our students are many times the best way to [share our] news to our community, [but] we rely heavily on services like REMIND to get the word out on events and opportunities to serve,” Galvez said.
Cuauhtemoc Solorio, director of the TRIO program Talent Search, said the stay-at-home order has made them think outside the box.
“First and foremost, we had to make sure that we are able to fully support our students during this time,” Solorio said. “We did this by completing a survey that allowed us to identify their respective needs and areas of support.”
The surveys which evaluated individual students’ circumstances during the pandemic helped TRIO identify the need and provide everything from meals to internet access.
Solorio has been part of the TRIO program since 1997. Solorio was also a part of the TRIO program when he was in high school.
The TRIO Talent Search has been around since 2016, and works with middle school students until they graduate high school to help them get motivated for college.
Both Solorio and Galvez said it was difficult to switch their offerings to the virtual platform because TRIO has always offered activities for the students in the summer, but they hope to have a strong academic plan for the students who are enrolled in summer programs.