Access OSU opens doors to higher education.

Students from minoritized communities frequently do not receive the same access to post-secondary educational opportunities and higher education often feels out of reach. Access OSU is working to change this by creating culturally responsive pathways to higher education where students and their families see college as not only option, but a reachable destination.

A new Oregon State University partnership between the Division of Extension and Engagement, the Division of Student Affairs, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Enrollment Management, Access OSU focuses on students and families from Black and African American, Indigenous, Pacific Islander, Hispanic and Latinx communities in the Portland area to build relationships to create seamless transitions from elementary school through entrance into a community college or university and career opportunities beyond.

Working closely with community-based organizations and families, Access OSU plans to align the many programs OSU already offers — from 4-H to Pre-College Programs to academic support through the Educational Opportunities Programs — to provide holistic, culturally relevant and responsive support. This collaboration will enable new outreach events like workshops with community partners to help families learn about resources to address common barriers to accessing education like paying for college and understanding the application process, as well as experiences for students focused on hands-on exploration of degree options and career interests and engaging with campus life. By creating trust and providing spaces for conversation, students and their parents can get their questions answered early on.

“Opportunities like these will also help to relieve the stress and anxiety often associated with applying for college by providing support,” said Temmecha Turner, director of community diversity relations in the Office of Institutional Diversity and a member of the Access OSU team.

As part of its focus on strengthening relationships with community partners, other institutions of higher education, school districts and businesses, Access OSU seeks to shift the trajectory for students and families by addressing long-standing barriers to post-secondary education for minoritized communities that emerge early in a student’s journey. According to Oregon Kids Read, 90% of students who do not earn a high school diploma struggled to read in the third grade. Access OSU will enable collaboration between OSU and local nonprofits and knit together programs already working to build student skills and confidence at an early age.

Access OSU will also improve students’ educational experience by working closely with community members on the ground to ensure programming and strategies are responsive to specific community needs. It’s essential everyone has a seat at the table — to show students and families that they are seen, valued and heard.