The History of TRIO


About the TRiO Scholars Program

The TRiO Scholars Program, also known as Student Support Services (SSS), was established on the UC TRiO logoDavis campus in 2005 with a 5-year $1.1 million federal grant from the US Department of Education. The program is funded to serve 160 first generation and low income undergraduates from entry to the university to graduation.

In an effort to extend the educational pipeline of support from secondary to higher education, students that participated in UC Davis pre-college programs such as Upward Bound, Educational Talent Search and the Early Academic Opportunity Program are given priority invitations to apply. Participants are expected to meet at least once a quarter with a peer or career staff Advisor and attend at least one TRiO-sponsored event during the academic year. All program services are aligned with the three components of the program: 

Academic Excellence

TRiO students draw on their individual strengths and program services to achieve academic excellence. Program services support students in maintaining good academic standing and in persisting to graduation within six years of enrollment.

Community Building

Forming a rich community of scholars, TRiO students develop a network that instills a sense of belonging among the first generation student community. TRiO Scholars Program participants are typically pre-college TRiO program alumni and are familiar with the TRiO brand, thus creating a strong bond between students. 

Financial Empowerment

TRiO students take financial responsibility by developing the knowledge and skills to make informed and fiscally responsible decisions. 


Program Objectives

The primary goal of the TRiO Scholars Program is to improve the retention and graduation rates of first-generation and low-income college students. The program has developed three primary objectives related to persistence, academic standing and graduation:

Objective 1 - 85% of all participants will graduate or will persist from one academic year to the beginning of the next academic year.

Objective 2 - 80% of all enrolled participants will meet the performance level required to stay in good academic standing at the UC Davis. 

Objective 3 - 70% of new participants served each year will graduate within six (6) years. 


History of Federal TRiO Programs

The TRiO Programs are educational equity programs federally-funded through the Department of Education. They are designed to motivate and support students from underserved and underrepresented backgrounds. TRiO includes five distinct outreach programs targeted to serve and assist students to progress from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.

The history of TRiO is progressive. It began with Upward Bound, which emerged out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 in response to the administration's War on Poverty. In 1965, Educational Talent Search, the second equity program, was created as part of the Higher Education Act. In 1968, Student Support Services, originally known as Special Services for Disadvantaged Students, was authorized by the Higher Education Amendments and became the third in this series of educational equity programs. By the late 1960s, the term "TRiO" was coined to describe these three federal programs.

Over the years, the TRiO Programs have been expanded and improved to provide a wider range of services and to reach more students who need assistance. The Higher Education Amendments of 1972 added the fourth program to the TRiO group by authorizing the Educational Opportunity Centers. Amendments in 1986 added the sixth program, the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program. Additionally, in 1990, the Department of Education created Upward Bound Math/Science and Veterans Upward Bound to address the need for specific instruction in the fields of math and science and veterans returning to education after active duty, respectively.