The University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) Educational Talent Search (ETS) received a $3.2 million grant to provide support to low-income and first-generation students in New Hampshire high schools and middle schools.  

ETS aims to promote equity and education for all. It was created in the 1960s as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty policies. The organization’s primary services are advising, academic preparation, post-secondary placement and career exploration. The program assigns a counselor to each school to provide individualized services to students.  There are over 1,200 students in 15 high schools and 14 middle schools enrolled in NH ETS programming, according to their website.   

Counselors work to show students the potential for post-secondary education and provide them with the tools to pursue degrees past high school.  

Students can start to receive ETS services in 6th grade. This early programming aims to build self-confidence and increase college aspirations.  “If young middle schoolers start seeing that there is a chance for them to go to college when they are young, then they will be making great decisions as they go through middle school and high school to follow their dreams and set goals,” said Melissa Goyait, associate director of ETS.  

Programming continues up to 12th grade where ETS assists with college and financial aid applications and helps interpret financial aid and decision offers. Often, ETS will provide support to students once they are in college.  

Since counselors work with students for six plus years, Goyait says ETS employees develop a strong relationship with the students they work with. “They’re like our children. They’re like family members.” Counselors utilize this relationship to build non-cognitive skills like resiliency and growth mindsets.  

ETS is almost completely grant-funded through the Federal Department of Education. Every five years the UNH program needs to reapply to maintain its funding. The group received the funds in August, for a five-year grant period that began Sept. 1.  

“We were very excited that we received our funding,” said Goyait. Leaders of the program were concerned about potential renewal issues because of COVID-19. Goyait says ETS has a strong relationship with New Hampshire congressmen, congresswomen, and senators who advocate for their funding at the national level.  

“I’m thrilled UNH’s Education Talent Search Program received this funding because it provides more than a thousand low-income, first-generation New Hampshire students with resources to overcome barriers to obtain higher education and succeed in the workplace,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).   

Goyait is also confident in ETS’s ability to help students. “This program has been alive for over 50 years, and we’ve always met our objectives,” she said. 

Goyait is incredibly proud of the students she works with. She continues to keep in touch with many well after their secondary school graduations and calls what they’ve accomplished magical. “It is really amazing to see – they are all out there achieving and doing wonderful things. It is just outstanding what students can do when they have that extra support.” 

Photo courtesy of UNH Educational Talent Search.