College receives Grant to Continue ACES program until 2025

Channel Islands National Park 2018

September 02, 2020 - 03:47 PM

ACES college visitMt. SAC has received a Federal Student Support Services (SSS) grant for $261,888 from the U.S. Department of Education to support it’s A.C.E.S. program through 2025. A.C.E.S. (or Achieving in College, Ensuring Success ) is a program for first-generation college students. The competitive grant is for a total of five years ($1.3 million in the five-year span).

SSS began in 1968 and is one of the eight federal “TRIO” programs authorized by the Higher Education Act to help college students succeed in higher education. It recognizes that students whose parents do not have a college degree have more difficulties navigating the complexity of decisions that college requires for success.

Diana FelixAccording to Diana Felix, Counselor and Coordinator of ACES, "the program has successfully met and exceeded the four TRIO objectives described in the grant since 2010: (1) persistence from one academic year to the other, (2) good academic standing, (3) graduating and (4) transferring from Mt. SAC to a four-year university."

Victor Rojas“During these uncertain times, the ACES Program will continue to foster a college-completing atmosphere that leads to increased student success by implementing a holistic approach to student development,” said Victor Rojas, Jr., Mt. SAC Director of TRIO Programs. “Additionally, during the closure of our campus due to COVID-19, we will continue to offer individualized counseling, cultural enrichment activities, peer mentoring, career exploration, personal enrichment and leadership workshops, along with virtual college visits.” 

ACES Northern California College TourThe grant is part of nearly $1 million in Department of Education grants for California State University, Fullerton, Cal Poly Pomona, and Mt. SAC. The ACES Program submitted a grant application to the Department of Education TRIO Student Support Services Program competition in January 2020.  There were 1,131 successfully funded SSS grants out of 3,000 submissions. One of the legislators who championed the grant was Mt. SAC’s own Representative for the 39th Congressional District, Representative Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr.


Representative Cisneros“As the first person in my family to graduate from college, I know how difficult navigating higher education can be. However, I cannot imagine the challenges our students are facing having to start a new semester during a health crisis. Right now, they need all the support they can get to succeed,” said Cisneros.

 2018 ACES ceremony

The purpose of the ACES Program is to provide academic and other support services to low-income, first-generation, or disabled college students to increase students’ retention and graduation rates. the program is designed to help students facilitate their transfer to four-year colleges. ACES staff does this by fostering an institutional climate supportive of the success of low-income and first-generation college students, as well as individuals with disabilities. 

The grant is the third such grant the college has received since 2010.