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Dean will take fundraising motorcycle trip to raise awareness of opportunity programs

May 11, 2016

Karasinski Tracy Karasinski, dean of the Office of Opportunity and Outreach at CCRI.

Tracy Karasinski, dean of the Office of Opportunity and Outreach at the Community College of Rhode Island, will ride her 2009 BMW F800ST motorcycle from her Warwick home to Washington, D.C., on May 15 to raise funds and awareness of college opportunity programs.

Karasinski serves as secretary to the board of directors for the Council for Opportunity in Education (COE), the only national organization dedicated to furthering the expansion of postsecondary opportunities for low-income, first generation students. COE is hosting its May board meeting in the nation's capital.

Established in 1981, COE serves college opportunity professionals at major institutions of higher education in the United States through nearly 3,000 federal TRIO programs that help an estimated 785,000 disadvantaged college students nationally overcome class, social, academic and cultural barriers to enter college, persevere and graduate.

Karasinksi hopes her ride will raise awareness of gaps in educational opportunity. "By riding to the May board meeting of the Council for Opportunity in Education, I'm hoping to call attention to educational opportunity and the critical role the TRIO programs have played in increasing college access and completion rates for low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities for the past 50 years," said Karasinski. "More than five million students have graduated from college nationwide with the special assistance of TRIO programs."

At CCRI, three TRIO programs are assisting students: the Rhode Island Educational Opportunity Center, Educational Talent Search and Student Support Services (SSS). Rhode Island College hosts a TRIO Upward Bound program, which supported award-winning actress Viola Davis from Central Falls. Nationally, SSS students persist and complete college at a substantially higher rate compared to national averages.

Karasinski is a Motorcycle Safety Foundation-certified basic rider coach and has a severe-profound hearing loss. Schuberth North America is supporting her ride and providing a helmet communication system that will work with her hearing aid.

Karasinksi is raising funds through donations that will be used as unrestricted revenue for COE. Those revenues will permit the organization to continue its lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill to advance TRIO and similar college access and completion programs.

"By 2018, more than half of the new jobs created will require at least some postsecondary education," said Karasinski. "The students we serve are still being left behind. Only 38 percent of low-income high school seniors go straight to college as compared to 81 percent of their peers in the highest income quartile. Once enrolled in college, low-income students earn bachelor's degrees at a rate that is less than half of that of their high-income peers – 21 percent as compared with 45 percent. That's a waste of potential that our country simply cannot afford.

"The need is as great as ever and these programs have a long proven track record of success," Karasinski continued. "They need to be recognized and used as models for future work."

CCRI President Meghan Hughes commended Karasinski's endeavor to raise awareness through her motorcycle ride. "Tracy's dedication to ensuring access to all students is extraordinary, and she sets an incredible example through fundraising to support COE's efforts on behalf of students in TRIO programs here at CCRI and across the country."

Donations can be made to COE Fairshare with "Tracy's Ride" written in the memo line and mailed to the Council for Opportunity in Education, 1025 Vermont Ave. NW, Suite 900, Washington, D.C. 20005-3516.

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Last Updated: 8/25/16