Access to Success Tastes Sweet

Boys & Girls club members enjoy a traditional taste of spring during a Sugar on Party held to celebrate the new Club to College program.

Josh Larkin/CCVBoys & Girls club members enjoy a traditional taste of spring during a Sugar on Snow Party held to celebrate the new Club to College program.

What better way to celebrate Club to College, the new pathway to higher education for the kids of the Boys and Girls Club of Burlington, than the age-old sugaring season tradition of sugar on snow. Provided by Howrigan Family Farms in Fairfield, Vermont, the sweet maple syrup, sour dill pickles and savory doughnuts accompanied the signing of an agreement between Community College of Vermont, Johnson State College and the Boys and Girls Club of Burlington on March 5 to provide greater opportunities for the Club’s young people to enroll and persist in college.

“Education is incredibly important, but sometimes it can be hard to get,” said Vermont Secretary of Education, Rebecca Holcombe, at the event. “Going to college is the opportunity that the people here today are trying to make sure that you have.”

CCV President Joyce Judy joined Secretary Holcombe, Johnson’s president Barbara Murphy, and the Boys and Girls Club of Burlington’s Executive Director Mary Alice McKenzie in addressing the kids and staff at the Club. Judy stressed the importance of reaching out and talking to people about going to college. She recognized CCV Winooski’s Ian Boyd, a coordinator of academic services that spends time at the Burlington Boys and Girls Club, as just such a person to express their needs to.

Murphy confided to the kids that she was the first in her family to go college, as many of them would be.

“We’re going to be part of your dreams,” she said. “You do the dreaming and we’re going to work with you to plan them.”

The agreement states that in addition to providing academic support, the Boys and Girls Club will also encourage members to take CCV’s Introduction to College Studies course and make use of their two dual-enrollment vouchers during their junior and senior years in high school. Once they graduate high school, the Club to College Scholars applying for a certificate or an Associate Degree program at CCV are offered automatic acceptance. And those who wish to continue on with their studies after completing their coursework at CCV, will be accepted to Johnson and pay the same affordable tuition rate as was paid at CCV.

“CCV has academic support programs and it’s very affordable and flexible so I can still work while going to school,” said Tanisia McGee, a Club member, part-time staffer and CCV liberal studies student. To her fellow members she implored, “even if you are the first person in your family to graduate I encourage you all to make good choices and stay focused in school.”

CCV President Joyce Judy signs the Club to College MOU as B&G Executive Director Mary Alice McKenzie, right, JSC President Barbara Murphy, and Vermont Secretary of Education, Rebecca Holcombe, talk.

Josh Larkin/CCVCCV President Joyce Judy signs the Club to College MOU as B&G Executive Director Mary Alice McKenzie, right, JSC President Barbara Murphy, and Vermont Secretary of Education, Rebecca Holcombe, talk.

As another incentive, those students maintaining a 2.5 grade point average while at CCV will receive a $250 scholarship when they successfully complete their 15, 30 and 45 credit hours respectively.

“We’ve gotten together to figure out how we can make going to college happen for you,” McKenzie said of the collaboration with Murphy and Judy. “If you do your part, then we’ll do our part.”

According to Judy, CCV’s part in the agreement is right in line with the College’s priority to ensure that this cohort of young Vermonters in particular know about the higher education opportunities available to them.

“This is an agreement that will ultimately strengthen Vermont,” she said. “It will provide a clear pathway for club members to earn a college degree right here in the state at the most affordable price available. This really is a great opportunity for students, a great agreement for our institutions to be part of, and a great success for the state of Vermont.”

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