TRIO’s History

History of the TRIO Programs

TRIO's origins are progressive. It began with Upward Bound, the first outreach program, which emerged out of the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 in response to the administration's War on Poverty. In 1965, Talent SearchMarch on DC 1963, thousands crowd together in hopes for federal reform (specifically civil rights laws for Americans) photo , the second outreach program, was created as part of the Higher Education Act. In 1968, Student Support Services (also to be known as SSS), which was originally known as Special Services for Disadvantaged Students, was authorized by the Higher Education Amendments and became the third in a series of educational opportunity programs. By the late 1960's, the term "TRIO" was coined to describe these federal programs.

The TRIO Programs were and are a set of educational equity programs federally funded through the Department of Education. They are designed to support first-generation and low-income students on their path to college graduation. Though founded on the three programs mentioned previously., TRIO now includes five distinct outreach programs targeted to serve and assist students, ranging from programs in middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.Lyndon B. Johnson standing over desk photo

Student Support Services (SSS), is one of the original “TRIO” programs, and is the most scuccessful out of all current and former programs. As of 2023, the SSS grant has nearly 1,159 active programs nation wide and growing with no signs of slowing down. Additional programs such as the Educational Opportunity Centers, and Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program were established later, but the “TRIO” nickname/brand persisted.

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. Ronald E. McNair Photo 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.

TRIO is an extrodinarily large group of programs and has witnessed widespread success nation wide helping thousands of active and former college students. For higher education TRIO may be found in either Community Colleges (CC's) or Universities. As of 2024, TRIO programs are comprised of: