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Posted September 21, 2016

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AVID gets $23,000 for NM college visits

The program in 29 APS schools received the APS Education Foundation's Varsity Award.

The APS Education Foundation has granted $23,000 to Albuquerque Public Schools students who are interested in getting a taste of college while they are still in high school or middle school.

The Foundation announced this week that its Varsity Award, a grant of $23,000 will go to the district’s middle and high school AVID programs to support students who want to take an exploratory field trip to a university in New Mexico.

AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. It’s an elective class at 29 APS schools, and targets students who have the potential to attend college, but may be the first in their families to take that step. The program works on academic performance and college readiness, and organizers say the ability to actually be on a college campus is critical to forming their plans.

“The college exploration field trips are imperative as our students need to see what is out there for their future,” said Eva Vigil, the district coordinator for the AVID programs. “Many of the students have made definite plans for their college attendance based on these visits so the value is just that, what does a campus look like, what do I need to do, where can I go, etc.”

Transportation funding for experiential field trips is at a premium throughout the district – merely chartering a bus can cost as much as $275. Vigil said the funding will allow more schools to take college visits and limit the fundraising pressure on programs, many of which are located at schools with modest means.

The Foundation’s Board of Directors includes three APS students who are critical members of the decision-making process, as the Varsity Award is directed toward a key student need. The three student members are Mikayla Salgado, a senior at Nex+Gen Academy, Lauren Donahue, a senior at La Cueva High School and Julio Chavez, a junior at Rio Grande.

Students and teachers who are part of the AVID program laud its effectiveness and the numbers: More than 1,800 students district-wide are enrolled. Many are adamant about the value of visiting schools such as the University of New Mexico, New Mexico Tech and New Mexico State, because it allows them to view college life – and the demands of college – in a first-hand way.

“Almost all of our AVID students have never stepped foot on a college campus,” wrote teacher Amanda Matray of Grant Middle School. “These field trips support their college dreams and enrich our classes.”

The Foundation granted $494,000 to programs, schools and classrooms in 2015-16, including projects that reached nearly 34,000 students. In the next several days, it will award up to $150,000 through the Success and Guhl Literacy grants.

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