The College Access and Persistence Services (CAPS) Outreach Center at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, provides outreach services designed to support, increase, and strengthen college-bound low-income and first-generation individuals. Within this population, CAPS places special emphasis on underrepresented minorities who symbolize the least-advantaged segments of the population.
As a land-grant university, UT prides itself on adding value to the state by educating students, conducting research and creative work that improves the quality of life, and reaching out to share expertise with Tennesseans. In keeping with UT’s mission, the center serves as a resource that will contribute to building and broadening college access for those whose backgrounds have kept generations locked into underemployment, both through access and through attitude. The center assists in preparing the next generation of skilled and ethical professionals and contributes to an enhanced quality of life for those individuals, resulting in an improved, more highly trained workforce within the community and across the nation.
CAPS also addresses the mission of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences (CEHHS) by providing quality educational experiences that “promote a healthy, educated, and civil society” through service and outreach activities. Students receiving quality educational experiences include students in grades 9–12 and adults who are seeking to improve their life circumstances, veterans, and those who represent the least-advantaged segments of the population.
Through the activities and projects of the center, CAPS also establishes internships and professional development opportunities in grant management, career and academic counseling, and research for university students and practitioners.
The research component of the center provides opportunities for faculty from CEHHS and other colleges at UT to develop research related to teaching and learning strategies, best educational practices, longitudinal investigations of long-term student success, and more. The results of the center’s outreach services to individuals will provide greater economic security and improved quality of life for families and communities. The center will also function as an important venue for developing educational resources for partnerships with school systems, community colleges, state and federal entities, private sector groups, foundations, and community agencies and organizations.
Specific outreach services will be provided by externally funded projects that add state and federal monies to the university. CAPS will solicit funding for research both internally and externally.
The center benefits the university by providing outreach services enhancing opportunities for access to UT while meeting the needs of low-income first-generation students. CAPS will continue to expand the diversity of the student body and broaden the network of support for multiple university areas. CAPS services and activities provide opportunities for hands-on training and experience related to educational preparation for undergraduate and graduate students who desire to become outstanding educators.