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CAMP renewed for five more years with $2.1 million federal grant

June 26, 2020

The College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) at the University of North Georgia (UNG) received a $2,125,000 federal grant to renew its program for five additional years.

"I was relieved and thrilled," said Christian Bello Escobar, director of Migrant Programs and Services at UNG who leads CAMP and High School Equivalency Program (HEP). "Receiving a perfect grant score shows that hard work and collaboration pays off. We received the maximum amount of money we're allowed to request, which is a little more than the last grant cycle."

CAMP is a competitive grant funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Migrant Education and administered through UNG's University College. UNG is one of three colleges and universities in Georgia that offer CAMP.

The program will receive $425,000 each year for five years. It provides $2,000 scholarships for up to 35 first-year students annually, plus an additional housing scholarship for students who live at Hawks Nest at the Preserve near UNG's Gainesville Campus.

Ramiro Ferreyra, a junior pursuing a degree in cybersecurity, was pleased to receive a scholarship.

"It helped me to financially afford to go to college," said the first-generation student from Athens, Georgia. "Now I am using the skills I learned in CAMP last year to apply for scholarships for next year."

The federal grant pays for the CAMP staff, including an enrollment coordinator, a retention coordinator, an administrative assistant, peer mentors and the director. They enroll and help CAMP participants complete their first year of college and beyond with academic, career, social, and financial support.

"The children of migrant and seasonal farmworkers tend to have low college attendance and student success rates. With CAMP, we are able to provide one-on-one coaching for their overall student success," Bello Escobar said. "We take them step by step through the admissions, enrollment and financial aid process while providing the skills they need to become a college graduate."

Ferreyra said one-on-one coaching helped him handle his first semester and thrive in his second semester. Ferreyra joined the cybersecurity club called the Cyberhawks, a volleyball team and the Latino American Student Organization (LASO).

"In my second semester, I started to join clubs and it helped me become successful," he said. "I became so involved that I will be the treasurer of LASO next year."

CAMP funds also supply a laptop computer loan program and a graphing calculator to those who need it. Bello Escobar said the laptops proved extremely helpful when UNG transitioned to remote instruction in late March 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Some of our CAMP students had their own computers but most didn't," he said. "So this computer loan program made a significant difference."

Other benefits include additional financial assistance based on need; one-on-one academic, personal and career coaching; tutoring; mentoring; workshops focused on student success skill development; cultural exploration; and service learning opportunities. Bello Escobar pointed out that 98% to 100% of CAMP students have been historically eligible for Pell grants in the past five years.

"And most of our students have part-time jobs," he said. "So we help guide them to make the best financial and academic decisions for their collegiate success."

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