NWSCC Talent Search students visit the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville as part of their STEM initiative.

MUSCLE SHOALS & PHIL CAMPBELL, ALA. — The U.S. Department of Education announced recently that Northwest Shoals Community College (NWSCC) will receive three federal Talent Search grants totaling $1,101,938 per year for five years to help more low-income students who would be the first members of their families to earn degrees to prepare for and enroll in college.

“The Talent Search Projects along with the other TRIO programs at Northwest-Shoals are an integral part of our mission,” said NWSCC Interim President Dr. Chris Cox. “The services they offer are designed to build a culture with their participants that leads toward a postsecondary education. Without them many students across our area would not be able to fulfill their dream of a college degree.”

The three NWSCC Talent Search programs serve specified schools in Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale and Winston counties in Northwest Alabama, and Lawrence and Wayne counties in Tennessee.

Talent Search Director Cindy Winborn is excited about the opportunities for area students. “The Talent Search team at Northwest-Shoals is a dedicated, passionate team that is vital to the success of many area students,” said Winborn. “We are looking forward to working with our existing schools, and our newly added area schools, Cherokee, Lauderdale County High School, and Waterloo.”

NWSCC has a long history with Talent Search grants spanning over 20 years. One of the Federal TRIO Programs, Talent Search identifies and assists middle and high school students who have the potential to succeed in education. At least two-thirds of the students in each local Talent Search program are from low-income economic backgrounds and families in which neither parent has a bachelor’s degree. Talent Search provides these students with counseling as well as information about college admissions requirements, scholarships and various student financial aid programs so that they can better understand their educational opportunities and options.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, 80% of Talent Search participants enroll in postsecondary institutions immediately following high school graduation. In FY20, more than 309,000 students are enrolled in 473 Talent Search TRIO projects in the U.S.

Talent Search began in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s War on Poverty. It was the second of eight federal “TRIO” programs authorized by the Higher Education Act to help college students succeed in higher education.

The Talent Search program is one of three TRIO programs, including Upward Bound and Student Support Services, at NWSCC. The programs are 100 percent federally funded by the U.S. Department of Education.