Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon announced Thursday that 21 Missouri organizations will receive $4,232,627 in AmeriCorps funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).
Among the organizations receiving funding is the Missouri College Advising Corps (MCAC) in Columbia. AmeriCorps awarded the MCAC the largest grant in the state at just over $524,000.
The University of Missouri successfully competed for a $1 million grant from the Jack Kent Cookie Foundation in order to establish the Missouri College Advising Corps in 2007. Since that time, the MCAC has hired 25 advisors serving 26 high schools in Kansas City, St. Louis and rural south central Missouri.
The MCAC hires recent MU graduates, trains them on the college process and places them in partner high schools where they serve as full-time near-peer college advisors. These advisors work closely with the high school students and guidance counselors to find a college that best fits each respective student.
The Missouri College Advising Corps Executive Director, Beth Tankersley-Bankhead, said the program serves many first-generation college students and underrepresented communities.
"What we know is that college-going rates in our partner schools, on average, have increased over 10 percent compared to a baseline before we partnered with those schools," Tankersley-Bankhead said. "We know that students who otherwise would not have gone to college, or thought about going, are in fact going and being successful."
Tankersley-Bankhead also said that the grant will provide funding to add new partner schools within the program's current partner regions as well as six new schools across south Missouri. The grant will also provide funding for the MCAC to place a second advisor in four of the program's largest high schools.
The MCAC will expand from 26 to 37 high schools across the state this fall. It will also hire 15 new advisors after employing 25 last year.
Other organizations in the area receiving grants include the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri, Jumpstart for Young Children, the Missouri River Communities Network and Primaries/CLAIM.
2014 is the 20th anniversary of the AmeriCorps program. AmeriCorps members have contributed more than 1 billion hours in service across America since the program’s founding, according to its website.