Students in Knox College Library

Knox Receives Grant to Support College Readiness Programs

$75,000 from Illinois Student Assistance Commission

April 11, 2011

Knox College has been awarded a grant of $75,000 from the Illinois Student Assistance Commission to support Knox's extensive array of community-focused college readiness and college success initiatives.

Dubbed "Destination College," the grant will provide partial support for a number of Knox's on-campus academic and community-outreach projects that assist Galesburg-area young people from elementary grades through college.

Photo above: Knox student Jamal Nelson (left) helps members of the Boys and Gilrs Clubs conduct online research in the Knox College Seymour Library.

"Destination College will enable campus programs to increase their effectiveness and their collaboration with other local service organizations," said Tim Johnson, associate dean of students. Johnson and Kathleen Ridlon, coordinator of Knox's Center for Community Service, developed the grant program.

"We want to expand our outreach and provide more resources for the Galesburg community, so that everyone can have a part in helping young people prepare for college and succeed in college," Ridlon said.

"Campus programs will apply for the funds by showing how their activities -- including their partnerships with community organizations -- are making a difference for young people in schools and in the community," Ridlon said.

Campus programs that could benefit from the grant include several that are directed at grade school children, including the Knox College For Kids summer program and the Odyssey Mentoring academic enrichment program; initiatives that involve both students and their families, such as the Knox-SEMILLAS Latina Mother-Daughter Program; activities, such as Reading Buddies, which send students, faculty and staff into local schools; and the Amazing Grace Project that links Knox students with children in the local Boys and Girls Club in an after-school academic program.

Knox also works with students in high school and college through the George Washington Gale Scholars Program. The Gale Scholars program is an acclaimed joint venture with Galesburg School District 205 and Carl Sandburg College that mentors and supports low-income and "first-generation students" through high school and college.

Campus departments at Knox that are involved in community outreach and college preparation include the office of Student Support Services and the college's centers for Intercultural Life, Community Service, and Research and Advanced Study.

In addition, Knox College students perform hundreds of hours of volunteer community service annually as part of coursework in education, psychology, and anthropology-sociology.

"Knox is a leader in mentoring young people for college success, both before college and in college," Johnson said. "The programs will benefit from the application process, because they will be required to examine their activities and impacts in detail."

Johnson and Ridlon will work with the College's Office of Institutional Research and a committee of faculty, staff and students, to evaluate programs and distribute the grant over the next several months.

Knox was awarded funds through the Department of Education's College Access Challenge Program, which is administered in Illinois by the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.

"Through this grant, we hope to learn more about the barriers that hinder youth in the community from pursuing a college degree, how to increase motivation among school-age youth to pursue a college degree, and to how to better provide them with the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare for college and succeed in college," Johnson said.

Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 48 states and 51 countries. Knox's "Old Main" is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.