VU TRIO programs are providing transformative educational opportunities for underrepresented students

VU TRIO programs are providing transformative educational opportunities for underrepresented students

COPE students participate in a leadership activity

January 31, 2023

VINCENNES, Ind. - February is National TRIO Month, and Vincennes University’s five TRIO programs are celebrating the educational outreach programs that help first-generation, income-eligible, and students with disabilities enter college and earn a degree.

VU offers five TRIO programs: Collaborative Opportunities for Postsecondary Education (COPE) Student Support Services, Educational Talent Search (ETS), Experience VU Student Support Services, Project Achieving Success through Participation In Reaching Educational Excellence (ASPIREE), and Upward Bound.

All are federally funded educational initiatives designed to motivate and assist students in their academic pursuit of completing a college degree.

An Evansville Harrison High School student who participated in VU’s Upward Bound was accepted into the prestigious Columbia University in 2021.

“Experience VU is helping me achieve my dreams by giving me the motivation that I need to be able to work toward my degree to be able to get a successful career,” Summer Barkley of Oaktown, Indiana, said. 

VU supports student success through many programs and services, including TRIO programs that provide career, academic, personal, and professional services to underrepresented junior high, high school, and college students.

Jasmine Scudder of Mitchell, Indiana, participates in COPE. The English major, who wants to become an author, also serves as the vice president of the Triple S Club. The club offers activities, programs, and special events for COPE students.

“COPE is helping me achieve my goals by making sure that I know that I’m capable,” Scudder said. “They are very helpful and understanding. I would encourage students to join because it looks good on a resume with the service learning projects, and you get to know a lot of different people in the process.”

According to VU Homeland Security and Public Safety major Alli Lininger of Valparaiso, Indiana, the COPE program helped her locate employment that is compatible with her class schedule and is relevant to her program of study. She wants to be an FBI agent.

“COPE is assisting me in reaching my goals by offering various services that are useful not only for my studies but for real-world scenarios,” Lininger said. “One example of COPE's services is that it provides free tutoring and printing for any field of study, and is accessible Monday through Friday. Another service COPE offers is business dinners that give COPE students the opportunity to learn about proper business etiquette, strategies for aceing professional interviews, and more.”

Barkley, a 2022 North Knox High School graduate, was part of Educational Talent Search before studying web publishing and design at VU and now participates in Experience VU.

“I want to tell students that participating in TRIO program is a wonderful idea,” said Barkley, who has aspirations of becoming a web designer. “It is the perfect opportunity to prepare for college and to get motivated to work toward your career. It’s an opportunity that is too good to pass up.”



COPE’s goal is to provide college students who are first-generation, income-eligible, or have a disability with services and the necessary skills to graduate college and pursue a career. Some of the services include coaching and mentoring (professional and peer), tutoring with executive functioning strategies, proactive advising in collaboration with their academic advisors, financial literacy workshops, and socialization activities such as gaming and Triple S Club activities. Additional services include a first-generation luncheon with key faculty and administration on campus that help discuss overcoming barriers and strategies needed, as well as a leadership academy that promotes communication skills, self-advocacy, creation of a vision statement, and civic engagement.


Educational Talent Search (ETS) is an academic enrichment program designed to assist junior high and high school students who are income-eligible or first-generation in the Southwestern Indiana counties of Greene, Knox, Sullivan, and Vanderburgh who wish to continue their studies beyond the high school level. Students gain valuable information in fun ways. They learn about college, careers, study skills, and life skills. ETS advisers also help students with the college application process and assist in finding sources of financial aid.


Experience VU is like a one-stop shop for college students. They can go there for tutoring, one-on-one academic coaching, mentoring, a listening ear, a place to belong, coffee, cocoa, and snacks all in one place. The program is designed to support students with disabilities or students with disabilities who meet certain income guidelines. It also offers assistance with academic advising, financial literacy, assistance with scholarships, financial aid, and FAFSA, and assistance with transfer to four-year colleges as well as monthly workshops, cultural experiences, and career readiness. Students also have access to a study-friendly and sensory-free lounge in addition to a computer lab.


The program identifies and assists middle school and high school students from income-eligible backgrounds or potential first-generation students in Daviess, Martin, and Sullivan counties. Project ASPIREE is free for students, parents, and participating schools. The program offers students ACT/SAT waivers, SAT/ACT prep, test registration assistance, college application fee waivers, assistance with filling out college applications, cultural and educational field trips, general financial literacy, college and career exploration, campus visits, academic advising/course selection, scholarship and financial aid information, guidance in filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), tutoring, personal counseling, and help with goal setting, study skills, time management, organization. Workshops are also offered to students and their families.


Upward Bound identifies high school students with an interest and the motivation in advancing their education at a two-year or a four-year college who meet first-generation college student guidelines or income guidelines. The program provides services and activities throughout the year, including summer and academic year components. An accelerated curriculum, life skills workshops, and cultural events are provided from the time of entrance through the completion of high school and college admission. Upward Bound utilizes tutors and an intensive curriculum to help improve mathematics, science, literature/composition, and other academic skills.

# # #