The Access Center at Colorado State University provides educational access to underrepresented populations (first generation, low-income, ethnically and racially diverse and non-traditionally aged) through quality services and programs. This mission is most important because of the influence it has on its participants and their lives.

The Access Center is made up of five federally funded Trio Programs (Upward Bound 1 and 2, Talent Search, Educational Opportunity Center and Priority 1 Training Grant) and five university-funded programs (ReachOut, Alliance Partnership, Community for Excellence Partnership engagement, Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session and the Bridge Scholars Program).

Our History

The Access Center began as The Center for Educational Access and Outreach in 1989 as a response to supporting the Land Grant Mission at Colorado State University. This mission strives to make education accessible to all persons and groups. To do the work we do it is very important to know our history.

In 1977, the university took its first steps to create the Access Center by sponsoring its first TRIO program: Upward Bound. (Federal TRIO programs help students overcome class, social, academic, and cultural barriers to higher education.) After a few years in 1981, Upward Bound staff partnered with other resources on campus and created the University Mentoring Program. This program partnered students of color on campus with Faculty and Staff that helped them with the transition to the university setting. Through the Mentoring Program it was apparent that these students needed financial assistance as well, so in 1984 the State Board of Agriculture initiated the First Generation Award with leadership by the Upward Bound staff. This award helps students similar to TRIO students financially and was the first of its kind in the nation.

Through the success of Upward Bound, the staff of the Access Center was able to meet more need by being awarded a Talent Search (another TRIO program) in 1988. The award serviced an additional 1000 students and followed them as early as sixth grade and continued through high school graduation. In working with students and their parents in Upward Bound and Talent search, it became clear that there was a need for educational services for first-generation, low-income adults. In 1991 the funding of the Educational Opportunity Center grant actualized this need. This program assists adults entering or returning to postsecondary education. There are three satellite offices under this grant in Larimer, Weld and Adams Counties.

In 1995, the Bridge Scholars Program was created to help high school graduates transition to their first year of postsecondary education. Through this program students enhance their academic skills, participate in leadership activities and create connections with important resources on campus

In 2005 the ReachOut program was created within the office of Center for Advising & Student Achievement (CASA) and was eventually moved to the Access Center in 2007. ReachOut allows CSU students to engage in service-learning opportunities to provide activities and workshops on post-secondary preparation for historically underserved secondary students. Mirroring the goals of the ReachOut program, several CSU students came together to create the Dream Project in 2009. This student run program partners CSU students with first-generation and low-income students in Fort Collins area high schools to assist in the college admissions process (including SAT prep, applications, writing essays, applying for financial aid, and finding scholarships).

The Alliance Partnership joined the Access Center in 2009 and was founded my Mary Ontiveros, Vice President for Diversity in 2007. This program brings together students, families, high school personnel and the CSU community to envision education beyond high school. There are ten Alliance high schools throughout Colorado that benefit from this program. All students attending the ten Alliance high schools are automatically participants of the Alliance Partnership Program.

Recently, in 2014, the Access Center transitioned the LDZ (Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session) program from Admissions to join the efforts of postsecondary education attainment for all students. Sponsored for the National Hispanic Institute, LDZ gives high achieving high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to participate in mock legislative sessions and judicial hearings and to improve on their public speaking and organizational management skills.

Together these programs provide a variety of pre-college access and outreach services to increase the pool of students motivated, prepared and available for post-secondary education. For students entering Colorado State University they also provide resources and support for a smooth transition into the higher education environment and retention through graduation.