TRIO Talent Search

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TRIO Talent Search is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and has been in existence on the Illinois campus since September 1, 2011. Talent Search is designed to create and sustain a college-going culture for its target schools and target areas and to improve parents’ capacity to prepare their child/children for college.Talent Search identifies and assists eligible individuals from the cities of Champaign, Decatur, and Urbana who have the potential to succeed in higher education.

Talent Search participants


We envision community and family partnerships that create and sustain an academic culture where all college prep participants are college-ready and fully prepared to enroll in top-ranked national colleges and universities and graduating from those institutions in 4-5 years.

On behalf of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the U.S. Department of Education, to fulfill this vision, program leadership will facilitate partnerships with target schools and families and community, faith-based, veteran, and other agencies that share the college prep vision and mission.


The mission of the program is to help participants graduate from high school, enroll in college the fall after graduating high school or completing an equivalent program (e.g., GED), and complete their postsecondary education.

Talent Search participants


Services are designed to:

  • Keep participants in school until they graduate
  • Help individuals re-enter school or an equivalent program (e.g., GED)
  • Help participants graduate high school
  • Help participants re-enter enroll in college the fall after they graduate high school or complete an equivalent program
  • Provide sufficient college-readiness foundation that leads to college completion

Specific services include, for example:

  • Assistance in completing college admission and financial aid applications, including FAFSA
  • Academic advice and assistance in secondary school and college course selection
  • Assistance in preparing for college entrance examinations
  • High quality tutorial services
  • Information on the full range of federal student financial aid programs and benefits and on resources for locating public and private scholarships
  • Financial/Economic Literacy
  • Guidance on and assistance with entry into postsecondary education
  • Exposure to college campuses, cultural events, academic programs, and other sites or activities not usually available to disadvantaged youth
  • Workshops and counseling (non-clinical) for parents of students served
  • Publicizing the availability of financial aid and assists participants with the postsecondary application process.


  • Commitment to attending college the fall after graduating high school or completing completing an equivalent program (e.g., GED)
  • Attend target school
  • Have a cumulative 2.00 grade point average (High School students)
  • Completed the 5th grade
  • Be between 11 and 27 years old
  • Desire to re-enter school or an equivalent program such as a GED program
  • Potentially be the first person in immediate family to attend college
  • Be within income-eligible range based on federal guidelines

Veterans may be eligible to receive services and are encouraged to apply.

Talent Search participants

Target Schools

  • Centennial High
  • Central High
  • Edison Middle
  • Eisenhower High
  • Franklin Middle
  • Jefferson Middle
  • MacArthur High
  • Stephen Decatur Middle
  • Thomas Jefferson High
  • Urbana High
  • Urbana Middle
Talent Search participants


Applications are accepted year-round and participants are selected without regard to race/ethnicity, gender, religion, disability, sexual orientation, political beliefs, veteran status, or other personal characteristics. Completed application packets will be considered and must include:

  • Completed and signed application
  • Most recent academic transcript
  • Needs Assessment Form (includes personal statement)
  • Consent to Release Records Form
  • Signed copy of most recent federal 1040 U.S. tax form or Free/Reduced verification from School District or School

Application package for parent and child participation (17 and under) (pdf)

Medical forms (pdf)


  • Curtis K. Blanden, Assistant Director
  • Vincent Cunningham, Associate Director
  • Domonic Cobb, Director, Office of Minority Student Affairs & TRIO Programs

For more information, please contact TRIO Talent Search at (217) 333-0056 or