On Wednesday, January 24, sixty Granger High School freshmen will receive a free iPad as participants in the school’s new PACE Program (Partnership for Accessing College Education).

The Salt Lake Community College (SLCC) donor-funded program has significantly increased high school graduation and college participation rates in the Salt Lake Valley for low-income and first-generation college students, over the last 10 years. (Event details below.)

“We’re pretty pumped about the PACE program. It helps the kids see the end goal at the beginning of high school—many students think college is unaffordable or not an option for them,” said Granger’s Principal, Tyler Howe, PhD. “All the steps leading to graduation and college can seem abstract. PACE can help facilitate and paint the picture from the beginning for these students, with a carrot at the end—a scholarship to SLCC.”

A generous gift from the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation will establish Granger as the sixth local high school to host PACE. The need is evident. Granger is the largest high school in the state, and 69% of its 3,400 students participate in the free or reduced lunch program. 

“We are so thrilled to support this innovative program, helping first-generation students with the tools they need for academic success,” said Lisa Eccles, President and COO of the George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation. “I look at their faces—so full of potential—and we’re proud to be a part of their journey. There’s no doubt we’re counting on them to be our future community leaders.”

The brainchild of SLCC President Deneece Huftalin, the first PACE program took root at West High School in 2011. It is now in six high schools, with the recent addition of Granger High. Of the 561 students who have graduated from the PACE program, 442 have gone on to college. The mentoring and scholarship program provides graduates with a six-semester scholarship to SLCC. 

“Our approach involves collaborating with students to broaden their perspectives. We achieve this through the dedicated support of a full-time advisor within the school and the guidance of part-time peer mentors who offer personalized mentoring and workshops,” said Alonso Reyna Rivarola, director of the College’s PACE program. He explains the three areas the program focuses on, which include developing a growth mindset, self-efficacy, and a sense of belonging. 

Guiding students to a growth mindset eventually helps them link what they care about to academic and career paths. Self-efficacy focuses on developing communication skills for self-advocacy. “Often, these students have not yet been provided the tools to voice their needs,” explained Reyna Rivarola. A sense of belonging ultimately builds confidence in students so they feel like they do belong on a college campus and will be able to navigate college.

“I’m excited to make PACE part of the community at Granger, which in itself is already a community hub,” said Reyna Rivarola. “The PACE advisor is available daily to engage with students and their families. This highlights the community part of SLCC.”

The event will take place on Wednesday, January 24, at 2:30-4:30 p.m. at Granger High School (3580 3600 W, West Valley City), in the school's Lecture Hall.

The program will proceed as follows:

2:40-2:50 p.m.: Introductions and overview
2:50-3:30 p.m.: iPad distribution
3:30-4:25 p.m.: Kahoot! game using new iPads to learn more about PACE

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