Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity

October 28, 2020

TRIO SSS Celebrates 40 years of success at UW



It was 1980. Our department, then called the Office of Minority Affairs, had just received a new grant award from the U.S. Department of Education. The UW had won a new opportunity for students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, students with disabilities, and students who are the first in their families to pursue 4-year degrees. Three hundred students from this population would now have access to holistic advising, targeted instruction and tutoring, and innovative co-curricular opportunities to help them thrive and grow through the Husky experience and ultimately earn their Bachelor’s degrees. TRIO Student Support Services had arrived at the UW.

Today, 40 years later, the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity is pleased to announce that its TRIO-Student Support Services program has been awarded renewal of two grants, supporting both a TRIO-SSS Regular and a TRIO-SSS STEM program. The U.S. Department of Education awards total $3.86 million over the next five years. $2.56 million will fund services supporting 300 students in the Regular program, and $1.3 million will fund services for 120 students in the STEM-focused program.

Beyond providing holistic advising and instructional support, TRIO-SSS offers program participants a welcoming community where they can find belonging on a campus where they might easily feel like outsiders. For instance, first year program participants can take the TRIO-SSS orientation seminars that help students feel included in a UW community while they are just starting their college journey. In addition, UW TRIO-SSS offers a range of events and resources that are tailored to program participants’ needs, including financial literacy workshops, internship opportunities, and a lab class that teaches bench research skills.

Participants also build social connections and affirm their identities by sharing cultural knowledge at program sponsored events. Past activities have included a class on how to make spring rolls and a hike up to Rattlesnake Ledge.  UW TRIO-SSS programming leads students to participate in an inclusive community where they feel safe and appreciated at the university. Students taking the TRIO-SSS writing seminar for new Huskies, for example, report feeling welcomed into a community where they are accepted and understood.  Expressing this sense of belonging, Zavannah writes that TRIO-SSS offers her the opportunity to be “surrounded by people who make me feel included” and she says, “I feel at ease knowing that I can be myself.”  Her classmate, Evy, adds that with TRIO-SSS, “I don’t feel like I am walking alone. I feel empowered and that I can do anything regardless of race or ethnicity.”

As the new 5-year cycle begins, the TRIO-SSS tradition continues strong at the UW, and like Zavannah, future low-income, first generation students and students with disabilities will be able to say, “I have people around me who will empower me and support me.”