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College Access Challenge GrantThe College Access Challenge Grant (CACG) Program is a federally funded formula grant that is designed to foster partnerships among federal, state and local government entities and philanthropic organizations to significantly increase the number of underrepresented students who enter and remain in postsecondary education. The U.S. Department of Education provides CACG grants to states to meet the needs of underrepresented students and families, with priority to those living at or below poverty, as authorized under Section 781 of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended; 20 USC 1141.

Massachusetts has been awarded funding under the College Access Challenge Grant Program (CACG) for a two-part project. Governor Patrick has designated the Department of Higher Education as the eligible agency responsible for the overall management, implementation and monitoring of this funding. Funding will support:

I.  Continued development and support of the Massachusetts College and Career Web Portal, YourPlanForCollege.

II.  Regional Partnership Initiatives: Massachusetts is organizing and executing a Regional Partnership initiative that in six geographic areas across the state to provide comprehensive college access and persistence services aimed at promoting student success. The partnership initiative focuses on serving areas with the highest concentrations of first-generation, minority and low-income students and families, as well as areas with the lowest college-going rates within each of the six regions. Our goal is to dramatically enhance the ability of our under-served students to be prepared for, enter, and succeed in college. The project focuses its efforts on four broad areas:

  1. Increasing the academic preparation of students so they can enter the college of their choice, with a specific focus on serving disadvantaged and under-represented students;
  2. Increasing college access by enhancing students’ and families’ knowledge of college options and financial aid, especially need-based federal and state aid;
  3. Increasing the persistence of students in college by providing them with education and support at key transition points, particularly prior to college entry and between the first and second years of college; and
  4. Increasing student and family capacity to manage education debt responsibly and successfully upon college graduation.

III.  Mount Wachusett Community College’s partnership currently serves high school seniors from Athol, Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster, Orange and Winchendon.  Additionally, the college will serve high school graduates from these towns who enroll as freshmen at MWCC during the 2015-2016 school year.