Dollar General Literacy Foundation awards grant to SAC’s free GED thru College Program

July 20, 2023

Office of Marketing & Strategic Communications

The Empowerment Center at San Antonio College has won an $8,000 grant to support its free GED thru College Program, which helps students pass their high-school equivalency exam and transition to college.

“Because of this grant, we’re able to support more students in the fall than we would have been able to before, so we’re super excited about it,” said Deborah Middleton, senior coordinator of the GED-to-College Transition Program.

The funding will help cover the costs of school supplies, a hard copy of the course curriculum for each student, and a software program to help students prep for the exam.

“Our students are very at risk. For most of them, asking them to buy binders, notebook paper, or the specific calculators used in the GED test is a burden. Any time we can get funding to provide that so it’s not an out-of-pocket expense, we jump on that,” Middleton said.

The GED thru College Program typically serves 100 to 150 students each year. When the program started in 2009, its primary goal was to help students pay for their GED test.

Empowerment Center staff found that GED students not only struggled to pay the test fee, but also needed help preparing for the exam, so the center added GED prep classes in 2010. Today the EC offers four semester-long GED prep classes each academic year.

The program provides advantages to students beyond getting ready to pass the test. While other Alamo Colleges also offer free GED programs, SAC’s GED thru College Program includes case management, with advisors helping students with financial aid, college applications, and challenges both in and out of the classroom.

“We kind of walk them through the process while they’re with us,” Middleton said. “We really incorporate that college mindset with every student.”

Also, because classes are on the SAC campus, students begin to experience the college culture and feel like they belong. With support from the Empowerment Center staff, they get the confidence boost they need to keep going.

“Our team at the Empowerment Center are the biggest cheerleaders, because often, that’s what they need. You can pay for everything under the sun, but if you don’t provide motivation, encouragement and a safety net for when they fall, they’re not going to be successful a lot of times,” Middleton said. “The services we provide are truly vital.”

On average, 72 percent of program participants have earned their GED, with approximately 60 percent transitioning to college. Many have gone on to earn career training certifications, bachelor’s degrees or even master’s degrees, she said.

Each year the Dollar General Literacy Foundation awards funds to nonprofit organizations, schools, and libraries within a 15-mile radius of a Dollar General store or distribution center to support adult, family, summer, and youth literacy programs.