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March 10, 2003

For Immediate Release - March 10, 2003
Contact: Christina R. Milano, (216) 577-9594
or Shane Hollett, (216) 408-9986

Governor Taft Announces Three New Ohio College Access Network Programs

Columbus - Making progress toward his goal of doubling college access programs for Ohio's youth by this fall, Governor Bob Taft recently announced the establishment of three new Ohio College Access Network (OCAN) programs.

"College access programs are opening the doors of higher education to students across Ohio," said Taft. "To survive in the new knowledge economy, we need to have a skilled and educated workforce. OCAN programs are helping students understand the importance of educational opportunities beyond high school and how such opportunities can lead to a successful future."

In his 2002 State of the State Address, Governor Taft proposed doubling the number of college access programs in Ohio by the fall of 2003, and having 5,000 more high school graduates going to college by 2006. According to OCAN, Ohio is well on the way to meeting both of these goals.

Currently, 29 college access programs serve nearly 300 school districts in Ohio with another 17 programs in pre-development stages. Further, the Fall 2002 enrollment in Ohio's public colleges and universities increased 3.7% or approximately 16,000 additional students over Fall 2001 enrollment.

The three new OCAN member programs are:

Stark County P-16 Compact Access Program - Located in Canton, this program is focused on raising student achievement in Stark County through collaboration with local school districts. This program's immediate goal is to increase the high school graduation rate and also the college enrollment rate. College access advisors are being hired to work in the evenings at local high schools, libraries and neighborhood centers to provide hands-on guidance throughout the county.

Open Doors for Opportunity - Located in Millersburg, Holmes County, Open Doors For Opportunity will provide service to residents who are Appalachian and Amish in heritage. Under the guidance of Executive Director Ms. Darla DiFabio, a program advisor will provide one-on-one counseling in county schools and in the Resource Center located in the Carey House in downtown Millersburg. Open Doors is reaching out to the community to recruit volunteer readers to help elementary students understand the importance of going to college.

    Medina City Schools Foundation - Located in Medina, the program's goal is to provide opportunity for every student within the Medina School District to obtain post-secondary education. This initiative originated in 2002 with the Medina City Schools Foundation concern that 75 to 80 percent of district students were not being properly served when it came to providing guidance to educational opportunities beyond high school. The Foundation also saw the creation of a college access program as an opportunity to bring business and public service leaders together to reach out to young people across the county.

    "These new members allow OCAN to take another step toward its goal of providing college access opportunities to all Ohioans. We are especially proud of the fact that rural communities are joining our ranks, allowing us to serve areas typically overlooked as a source of future leaders for the new information-based economy," said Shane Hollett, executive director of OCAN.

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