MCCC’s Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search Programs Celebrate National TRiO Day in February


Trenton, N.J. – For millions of students from low-income families who strive to be the first in their families to attend and graduate from college, seven federally funded programs called TRiO are supporting them on their journeys. National TRiO Day was observed on February 26, and Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) TriO programs celebrated with a week of special events and community service.

TRiO programs at MCCC have served tens of thousands of middle and high school students for over four decades: Upward Bound (44 years), under the direction of Stacy Denton, and Educational Talent Search (43 years), under the direction of Peggy Brown.

Said MCCC Vice President for Academic Affairs Robert Schreyer, "Our TRiO programs exemplify what we do here at Mercer. They help students build the confidence and skills to reach their full potential. I couldn't be more proud of the leadership of Stacy Denton, Peggy Brown and so many others who support these students on a daily basis."

A kick-off event on February 19 featured motivational speaker Brad Butler, an MCCC alumnus who recently completed his master’s degree. Other activities included a virtual college access day at Rutgers University, a “Why Trio Works” roundtable at Trenton Central High School, and a cookie drive to benefit the Children’s House at Capital Health. TRiO Day was formally celebrated on Feburary 26.

“When we talk about success, we can point to the numbers. But we are really talking about changing the lives of young people and creating pathways to success,” Denton said. “Participants in our TRiO programs have graduated from top colleges in New Jersey and across the country and have gone on to successful careers in a wide variety of fields.”

Both programs work with students who are traditionally under-represented in post-secondary education because of income, family background, disability, or other factors that make it harder for them to prepare for and complete a college degree.

“We help students develop the academic and personal skills they need to successfully complete high school and college,” Denton explained.

Upward Bound (UB) is currently serving 88 students from 9th through 12th grades from Trenton public and charter high schools, and Trenton Catholic Academy, during the academic year and summer months. UB is based at MCCC’s James Kerney Campus in downtown Trenton. Among its offerings are college visits, after-school tutoring, cultural enrichment activities, and preparation for the SAT and ACT exams.

“Young people in this program research potential careers, consider possible college majors, and learn how to navigate campus life by taking college tours. Participants engage in hands-on classes and career simulations, as well as leadership activities,” Denton said.

Educational Talent Search (ETS) serves close to 700 Trenton students directly in their schools, starting as young as 11 years old. The program offers innovative activities, educational and career workshops, and personal and academic guidance. Most students attend either Grace A. Dunn Middle School, Trenton Central High School, Trenton Central High School West, or Daylight/Twilight High School. 

Denton notes that MCCC’s UB students often develop bonds that last long after high school and college. “We established an Upward Bound Alumni Association to create a network for program alumni to support and advocate for current students and contribute to our programs, while networking and reconnecting with each other,” Denton said. “Our UB students visit and share their experiences.”

Denton observes that MCCC’s Upward Bound and Talent Search programs have been so successful because of the strong partnership between MCCC and Trenton schools and the alignment of the college’s mission with traditionally under-represented students. “These programs are an extension of the college’s mission to support student success. Through the TRiO programs, MCCC has assisted thousands of young people on their life journeys.”


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Koran Green, a former Upward Bound student and EOF graduate of MCCC, delivered a proclamation from the City of Trenton that recognized the major contributions of Mercer's TRiO programs. Green serves as an aide to Mayor Reed Gusciora.



MCCC alumnus Brad Butler, who recently earned his master's degree, spoke to students during a kick-off event on Feb. 19.