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 four federally funded Trio Programs (Upward Bound 1 and 2, Talent Search and the Educational Opportunity Center) and five university-funded programs (ReachOut, Alliance Partnership, Dream Project, 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.

Our Programs

The Alliance Partnership unites students, families, high school personnel, and the Colorado State University community in a common goal: to envision education beyond high school and send a greater number of Colorado students to college. By working together, we can elevate the expectation of students and their families regarding the importance, access and attainability of higher education.

Our goal is work together with your community to raise the expectation that all students can pursue an education beyond high school. We listen to the needs of each community and respond by providing the necessary tools and resources to students, families, and schools.

The Bridge Scholars Program provides a college life experience at Colorado State University to Upward Bound and Educational Talent Search high school graduates and select Colorado State University freshmen applicants who participate in this eight-week University Summer Session residential program.

The Educational Opportunity Centers program provides counseling and information on college admissions to qualified adults who want to enter or continue a program of postsecondary education. The program also provides services to improve the financial and economic literacy of participants. An important objective of the program is to counsel participants on financial aid options, including basic financial planning skills, and to assist in the application process. The goal of the EOC program is to increase the number of adult participants who enroll in postsecondary education institutions.

The Lorenzo De Zavala (LDZ) Youth Legislative Session is an  intense, eight-day, model government session that gives high-achieving, rising high school junior and senior students the opportunity to understand organizational culture, protocol and procedures in order to become more effective community leaders, meet and collaborate with new friends, reflect on the issues of the day and practice leadership.

Reach Out engages college students in creating college pathways for middle and high school students, and enriches the curricular experience of first-generation college students by  providing innovative and highly engaging programs for middle and high school students, as well as family and community members.

The Educational Talent Search program works with middle, and high school staff to help students attend college after graduation. Talent Search assists 6th-12th grade students by providing academic, career, college, and financial aid counseling.
Talent Search programs are provided for free during the school day; approximately twice per month. Students are “school-excused” from class for about one hour for each program meeting if they have good academic and attendance records.

The Upward Bound (UB) Program assists high school students in developing the academic skills and motivation needed to successfully complete high school and to enter college upon graduation. Students receive educational, cultural, and social experiences that will help prepare them to enter and succeed in college. UB students receive academic advising, after-school tutoring, weekend study skills workshops and opportunities to visit colleges and universities. Upward Bound offers an academic year and summer component.