Project Horizons Provides Opportunity
Program Continues to Have Long Lasting Impact on Students
Project Horizons is a college-track scholarship and mentoring program operated by the Eastern Shore Community College Foundation. The program provides academic, social, and cultural support for economically disadvantaged students, and it introduces them to the post-secondary education environment.
Guidance counselors in local public schools identify students who have the potential for academic success but who also have significant barriers: financial, cultural, emotional, or any combination. Students are required to write a short essay to apply, and the program provides awards and guaranteed scholarship opportunities. The program encourages at-risk youth to complete high school and provides a direct pathway for them to attend Eastern Shore Community College upon graduation where free tuition is guaranteed.
Under the leadership of Project Horizons Coordinator Floriselda Roblero, the program serves students in grades 7-12 and provides free tutoring services, academic incentives, and immediate access to in-school counselors. Ms. Roblero maintains monthly contact with students, and during a normal year provides educational and cultural field trips such as to the Barrier Islands Center, ice skating in Norfolk, and the occasional pizza party.
Ms. Roblero noted, “Our students struggled to handle the sudden changes they were facing with COVID-19. We knew we had to do our best to reach out to them. In collaboration with Project Discovery and teachers at Northampton and Accomack County Public Schools, we brainstormed the best ways to engage students remotely. We soon became Zoom experts! Maintaining contact was the goal, especially with our incoming freshmen.”
The class of 2020 high school graduates comprises fourteen Project Horizons students, including two who graduated early, ten graduating seniors who enrolled in college, and one who joined the Marines. Another student took so many dual enrollment courses in high school that she is able to take the final class she needs to graduate from ESCC this summer with an associate degree.
Additionally, Ms. Roblero explains, “We were able to connect with ten families since the pandemic started and either delivered much needed supplies or sent them grocery gift cards.”
Project Horizons was started under the leadership of the late Robert S. Bloxom, Sr., a former ESCC Foundation Board member and a tireless advocate for the founding of ESCC.
ESCC Project Horizons graduates include those working as: a registered nurse, a Northampton High School counselor, and a lawyer. ESCC’s Kentrelle Walker, a case worker at ESCC for the federally funded Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act program, rose through the Project Horizons program.
The program is funded by a small endowment, annual contributions, and a grant from ESAAA/Project Discovery. Over the past ten years, 100% of Project Horizons students graduated from high school. Well over 90% of these students pursue post-secondary education with the remainder entering the military or workforce.
Ms. Roblero is in the process of enrolling seventeen new seventh graders into Project Horizons, and she explains, “Graduation looms closely for our high school graduates for the 2020-21 school year. We look forward to continuing our ongoing support and rising above whatever obstacles may present themselves!”