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VSAC Outreach provides career and postsecondary information and counseling services to Vermonters who are planning for their future.
VSAC’s mission is to make sure Vermonters not only have the financial aid they need to pursue education or training beyond high school, but also that they get the information and advice needed to make education or career plans.
Outreach was created in 1969 to help disadvantaged young people pursue education or training beyond high school. Funded by the Higher Education Act of 1965 as part of President Johnson’s “War on Poverty," Talent Search (as it is known nationally) was part of a trio of programs that included Upward Bound and Student Support Services. Both the Outreach Program and the federal TRIO programs have expanded over the years to offer a range of services to students of all ages.
Outreach serves any Vermonter who would like information about career planning, education and training beyond high school, and the financial aid process, including early college planning.
In addition, with the support of federal grants, Outreach offers intensive assistance to middle school students, high school students, and adults who meet income and other criteria. Eligible students are served through Talent Search and GEAR UP(grades 6 through 12); adults are served through a TRIO program called the Educational Opportunity Center Program. Outreach provides services to schools interesting in developing or enhancing a comprehensive career development system for their students.
General Population: Workshops presented for middle school students help them think about the future, enhance their awareness of careers and postsecondary education, and provide information about high school course selection, postsecondary options, and financial aid. Presentations for high school students cover career decision-making, college awareness, and the financial aid process. High school students can also attend VSAC-sponsored college and career fairs and get help with financial aid forms. Adults receive assistance, individually or in groups, with career decision-making, education planning, college selection, and financial aid. Schools receive intensive consultation on the development of career systems that are embedded into the existing curriculum.
Talent Search and GEAR UP: Ongoing individual and group counseling sessions build students’ self-awareness and help them improve decision-making and academic skills, select courses, explore career and college options, and learn about the financial aid process. Participants also visit college campuses, receive academic help and referrals to special programs, and get assistance with college and financial aid applications. Parent involvement is a critical component of the program.
Educational Opportunity Center Program: As is the case with the general adult population, clients eligible for this program receive assistance with career decision-making, education planning, college selection, and financial aid. Help is provided on an individual basis or through workshops. Appointments may be arranged through VSAC’s toll-free number.
Direct service to participants is provided by more than 50 counselors who live in the communities they serve. Services are offered to every public middle school and high school. Adult participants are seen at regional offices of the state Department of Labor (DOL), many of the state’s vocational-technical centers, all sites of the Community College of Vermont (CCV), Department of Social Welfare offices, Vocational-Rehabilitation offices, parent-child centers, and correctional facilities. Outreach maintains an administrative office at the VSAC office in Winooski.
Services are funded through a combination of federal and private money. Federal grants for the TRIO and GEAR UP programs, funded under Title IV of the Higher Education Act, expire every 5–6 years and are renewed following a competitive process.
Yes, Outreach works closely with the Vermont Department of Labor (DOL) and Community College of Vermont to serve adults seeking higher education or training. UVM, the Vermont State Colleges, Vermont Principals Association, and the VT Department of Education. Outreach has an active partnership with the Department of Children and Families in order to identify and serve more students in foster care.