About 140 high school students in Fresno State and Fresno City College Upward Bound will join a statewide TRIO Day celebration Saturday, Feb. 25, by providing a day of community service and advocacy at Nielsen Park in southwest Fresno.

The students from Fresno, Sanger and Madera participate in the federally funded program designed to help them get to and succeed in college. Students – 100 from the Fresno State program and 40 from City College – will pick up trash, erase graffiti and sanitize the playground area for children, among their service activities.

For the advocacy component, they will telephone their legislators and to persuade them of the importance of keeping TRIO programs alive in the central San Joaquin Valley, said Susana Cruz, a Fresno State Upward Bound counselor. The students will stress the public benefit of program participants’ community service, such as the park cleanup.

Students will start their service work at 10 a.m., then make phone calls 11:30 a.m.-noon from the park at 1730 S. Fruit Ave. (between Kearney Boulevard and California Avenue).

The event is an effort to raise awareness of the TRIO program’s value amidst the challenges from possible budget cuts, while instilling a sense of civic engagement in the young students, Cruz said. She said up to 200 Upward Bound programs could face elimination because of federal budget cutting.

TRIO is comprised of eight federally funded outreach and student services programs. It began as three programs, hence TRIO. It identifies and helps low-income individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, first-generation college students and individuals with disabilities to progress through from middle school to post baccalaureate programs.

Fresno State’s Upward Bound, which includes the English Language Learning Upward Bound Program, provides monthly college conferences, weekly tutorials, academic and career advising, a summer residential program and nonresidential programs.The four other TRIO programs at Fresno State are Educational Talent Search, Education Opportunity Center, Student Support Services and McNair.

“As students receive services and benefit from these programs, we instill in them the importance of giving back to their communities,” Cruz said. “This is something that is expected from them after they graduate from college.”

For more information, contact Cruz at 559.278.6797 or slucero@csufresno.edu.

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