Changing Families and Futures: Kent State Receives Five-Year Grant Renewal for TRIO Student Support Services Program

The U.S. Department of Education has awarded Kent State University a $2.6 million, five-year TRIO Student Support Services program grant. The program serves students from first-generation and low-income backgrounds and students with diverse learning and physical abilities.

Kent State’s Student Support Services (SSS) program, housed in University College, serves 300 students annually through a holistic community approach offering peer mentoring, tutoring, academic, cultural, personal, professional and leadership development experiences. The program has a proven track record of helping students stay in school and continue to graduation. 

“For more than 40 years, the Student Support Services program has been making a difference in the lives of students who have the most difficult time navigating the university system,” said N.J. Akbar, Ph.D., Kent State’s assistant dean of University College, who oversees the program and led the grant writing and submission. “Student Support Services has modeled the way for removing barriers to graduation and increasing students’ sense of belonging; it has literally changed families and futures.” 

In a recent statement, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan said, “Kent State University will be able to provide necessary services and support to ensure that students can attend and graduate … no matter their financial situation.” Ryan went on to say, “We need to continue removing the barriers to a college education for everyone who wants to get one,” which is at the heart of the program’s mission.

“As the first in my family to graduate from college, I know how confusing and overwhelming the college experience can be,” said Adam B. Cinderich, director of the Student Support Services program at Kent State. “Our program’s main goal is to support our students as they embark on and navigate their academic journey. When students join our program, they are gaining much more than a support system. They become part of our TRIO family.”

When asked about what had the greatest impact on them this year, a current Kent State student responded, “SSS is my home. Without them, I honestly am not sure where I could have gone in my college journey. They have changed my life, and I am so grateful for everything they do.”

Founded as part of the Educational Opportunity Act of 1964 and created as part of former President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty, federal TRIO programs were the first national college access and success programs created to combat social, socioeconomic and cultural barriers to education in the United States. Kent State’s Student Support Services has been helping students realize their dreams of graduating from college since receiving its first grant in 1978.

The program builds a community to support student success. This occurs through peer tutoring, peer mentoring, personal and professional development workshops, leadership development, financial literacy, and assistance navigating students’ college transition and the university system. The program also offers unique immersive learning experiences, including annual leadership retreats, graduate school visits and alternative spring break trips.

Student Support Services will receive $527,601, or 73%, of its annual funding from the U.S. Department of Education and $195,473, or 27%, from Kent State.

For more information about Kent State’s TRIO Student Support Services program, visit

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Media Contacts:
N.J. Akbar,, 330-672-1865
Adam B. Cinderich,, 330-672-8689
Emily Vincent,, 330-672-8595

POSTED: Friday, August 28, 2020 09:58 AM
Updated: Friday, December 9, 2022 12:31 PM
University College