Seton Hill University’s Project Forward Talent Search received a four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education that totals almost $1.6 million. The program, which has been in operation since 1968, assists students from low-income families in applying for college. Currently, Project Forward sends advisors to 27 area middle schools and high schools to serve 1,450 students. Advisors are certified teachers who visit a school once a week. As part of the guidelines for the program, at least two-thirds of the program students are from low-income families and are potentially the first generation in their family to attend college.

"Seton Hill has a 34-year history of working with students from traditionally low-income and minority families who may think that college is out of the question," Gerald Sheridan, director of Project Forward at Seton Hill, said, noting the program helps students and their families through the entire process of applying for college. "Receiving this federal grant means we are able to continue our work with hundreds of students in Southwestern Pennsylvania for at least four more years. This work is important to the students, their families and gives Seton Hill University a chance to give back to the community."

"We are so grateful for the work Project Forward does here. They handle a majority of the career and financial aid counseling," said Deborah Sabol, guidance counselor at Bethlehem Center High School, noting she is the only counselor for the approximately 450 students there. "The counselors from the program meet with seniors who aren’t sure what they want to do after graduation and work with them one on one to give them some direction for when they leave here. I’ve seen the program work wonders with our students."

Workshops in middle schools help students recognize their personal skills, receive career information, and work educational planning, decision-making and goal setting. In the high schools, Project Forward advisors work with students and their families one on one to apply for college, walk them through the financial aid forms and make sure the students get to college. Project Forward’s goal is to have at least 80% of the high school graduates enroll in post-secondary education.

"It is a pleasure for me to advise you that your Talent Search grant application has been approved for funding for our more years," Dr. Robert L. Belle, Jr., director of the Office of Federal TRIO programs, wrote in a letter to President JoAnne Boyle. "We want to emphasize the importance of improving outreach to participants about academic preparation for college, college entrance requirements and costs and financial aid availability. Congratulations on your success."

Although the program does not recruit for Seton Hill specifically, it reflects the desire of the University to improve conditions for the people of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

For more information, please contact Gerald Sheridan, director of Project Forward Talent Search, at 724-837-6199 or