Project STAY receives new 4-year grant

T.J. Gerlach

Funding for Missouri Southern’s Project STAY has been renewed for the next four years.

Susan Craig, director of Project STAY, said the current grant expires Aug. 31, and the new grant will begin Sept. 1.

“We’re funded for four years,” Craig said. “We hope that we receive an increase every year; that’s been the case every prior year.”

The current project year was funded for $228,825.

Craig said year one of the new grant will increase to $235,689. The funding comes from the United States Department of Education.

Project STAY is one of DoE’s TRIO programs, designed to help disadvantaged students succeed.

“The Project STAY program works with 160 students, although with our new funding cycle we’ve bumped up to 170 students, so we’ll be bringing some additional folks on board,” Craig said. “The funding is used to provide services to the students and the project.”

Project STAY provides services like tutoring, academic advising, equipment loans, job shadowing and more.

Students qualify for the project by either being the first in their family to go to college, coming from lower-income backgrounds or having a disability.

“Essentially, we kind of consider ourselves a student success program for students that meet those qualifications,” Craig said.

“Our goal is really to see these people graduate.”

Travis Lewis, senior psychology major, said the project has been a source of information and guidance for the four years he has been in the program.

“Throughout the four years, it’s actually been really good for me,” Lewis said.

“Especially because neither of my parents have been to college, and I’m from Kansas City so as far as my college career I haven’t had a lot of help, and so they’ve been kind of that guiding hand that’s helped through different aspects, like getting my loans ready.”

Craig said the staff and students involved with Project STAY are excited about the grant renewal.

“We’re glad that we’re going to get to continue the work that we started four years ago,” she said.

“I think it’s good,” Lewis said. “I think that actually they’re still under-funded as far as [TRIO] programs. All of them do a lot of stuff, and they don’t get enough money for it. They’ve been still fighting for the funding for years.”

Project STAY began at Southern in October 2001.

“We took the first four years to implement what we had written in our grant things that we wanted to do but then we picked up some additional services along the way,” Craig said. And so we are just constantly looking at our students and saying ‘What is it that we can do more to help these students?'”