TRiO Conference at Evergreen Brings College-Bound Students to Meet Political Leaders

Published: March 10, 2014

Congressman Denny Heck of Washington's Tenth District, pictured at the Olympia Farmers Market, will meet TRiO students at Evergreen March 20.

Some 350 low-income Washington state students, many of whom will be the first in their families to graduate college, will meet at The Evergreen State College on March 20 to hear from U.S. Congressmen Derek Kilmer and Denny Heck, as part of the Washington TRiO Civic Leadership Conference.

The state-wide meeting brings students participating in the federally funded TRiO college-prep program together on the Evergreen campus for workshops and discussions on how to succeed in education.

“Evergreen prides itself on being a state leader in serving a wide range of students, including low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities,” said Evergreen President Thomas “Les” Purce. “It is an honor to welcome TRiO students and give them a taste of what’s so important about higher education.”

After an opening address by Purce and keynote speech by Kilmer, students will take part in a variety of workshops held by local leaders and faculty from Evergreen and other Washington state colleges. Students will also hear a panel of state legislators, along with closing addresses by motivational speaker Luis Ortega, State Representative Chris Reykdal and Denny Heck.

Usually held once a year at the Capital Campus, this is the first year the Washington TRiO Civic Leadership Conference has been held at Evergreen.

“Hosting the conference at Evergreen, which is the four-year institution with highest percentage of TRiO-eligible students in the state, underlines our commitment to providing access to higher education,” said Felix Braffith, director of student support services at Evergreen.

Born out of the civil rights movement and the war on poverty, TRiO programs are designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds for high school and college students. Evergreen has managed TRiO programs for more than 35 years. The first grant, in 1977, was to support students in the Tacoma School District. In 2012, Evergreen received its most recent grant to serve students at Clover Park High School.

“That so many legislators, advocates and educators want to engage and talk to these students shows they matter,” said Braffith. “Higher-education institutions from around the state want them to succeed, get their degrees, and become leaders in the community.”