Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


David Humphries

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research


first-generation students, low-income students, TRIO


The aim of this thesis is to describe, analyze and support the purpose, function and outcomes of U.S. Department of Education TRIO programs. Throughout the world educational attainment and escape from poverty are linked. By achieving a college degree, one increases their odds of rising from poverty; conversely, poverty reduces one’s chances of attending a higher education institution in the first place. Since 1964, TRIO programs have worked to close the achievement gap for low income and first-generation students across America by providing supplemental assistance for college access. After more than 50 years, these programs continue to foster college readiness growth for underserved students in the middle school, high school, and college ranks. Since 2016, the current administration has annually proposed budget cuts to the U.S. Department of Education that would severely impact the size, scope, and abilities of these TRIO programs. Through the use of historical context, relevant data, capability theory, and professional interviews, this thesis examines the purpose and function of a Brooklyn-based TRIO program in an attempt expose the positive impact TRIO programs have on their students and their communities. The college attainment of America’s underserved students strengthens the country’s economic competitiveness while increasing the social mobility of its citizens. A fundamental proposal in this thesis is that TRIO programs should be kept safe from future budget cuts and that TRIO’s overall budget should be increased. My findings suggest that when underserved students are exposed to supplemental college readiness initiatives, their academic standing increases, as do their options for attending college immediately after high school graduation.