Illinois, to borrow a strength training term, is working on its core.
A group of recent college grads, known simply as The Core, are trying to increase the number of first generation college grads in Illinois.
The 67-person strong group, run by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC), is on a mission to make college affordable and accessible for Illinois students.
“We’re focusing on students who are in the lowest two income quintiles in the state,” said Jackie Moren, director of the College Access Initiative. “They attend college at a remarkably disproportionately lower rate than their more affluent peers.”
According to state statistics, poverty in Illinois – not race – is the biggest barrier to getting an education. In southern Illinois, 52 percent of the majority white population lacks a high school diploma.
So to service the needs of such a diverse group, the Core, who are mostly first generation college grads, study eight hours a day for seven weeks to become experts at navigating social, financial and academic barriers.
After graduation, they relocate to areas that need their help.
“Basically what we are doing is educating kids about the college process,” said Matt Montes, a Core member. “We definitely come from low income families, so it helped me understand the social inequalities that many families face.”
The Core begins its work today in 39 community college districts throughout the state.
For ISAC contact information in each district, click here.