Chair, College for ME-Androscoggin Steering Committee

Associate Dean for Community Relations and LearningWorks

Lewiston-Auburn College

Take one region in need of more college-educated residents. Add a group of concerned community leaders intent on creating a college-going culture. Four years later, with a lot of hard work and a driving mission, you have College for ME-Androscoggin. This alliance of business, education, community and government partners are working to double the number of residents in Androscoggin County who hold two- or four-year degrees by 2015. They are doing so at a new home for the effort, the LearningWorks facility at the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College, through a number of initiatives that promise lasting impact on all who live and work in the region.

For example, College for ME-Androscoggin now coordinates an “early college” program for six county high schools, which makes it possible for juniors and seniors in those high schools to earn college credits and learn they can succeed in college even before the graduate from high school. High school students are able to do this by taking classes at Bates College, Central Maine Community College, the University of Maine at Augusta, or the University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn.

A second undertaking involves reaching out to families across the county through what are called family “aspiration labs.” These are sites where teens and adults can develop individual college-going plans that include career exploration, college searches, and college and financial aid applications. The first of these family Aspirations Labs will soon open at the LearningWorks, and offer hours after the normal school day. At the same time, a portable aspirations lab will bring information about educational opportunities to county residents at their libraries, churches, social clubs, and other community centers. By summer 2009, the PAL will feature a web-based “tool kit” that can connect users to a virtually unlimited set of college-going resources.

Targeted outreach is helping to bring extra attention to groups across this region who may never have seen college as a possibility; currently, foster teens and younger veterans are being offered additional support to help make their college dreams a reality. Additional initiatives still in the planning stages include innovative mentoring programs, a virtual monument to degree holders, and increased focus on financial aid.

The educational challenges facing this area remain daunting, but College for ME-Androscoggin partners are well on their way to creating a successful college-going culture region wide. To join them or to learn more, please contact College for ME-Androscoggin at LearningWorks at 753-6677.


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