College Awareness Program Turns 20

From left to right: Lorraine, daughter Shani and Don Provost.

The College Awareness Program, Inc. of Oakland was founded in 1992 by a husband and wife team, Don and Lorraine Provost, who traveled with their two children on a cross-country trip to visit as many colleges from Texas to Washington, D.C. Along the way, the family visited small liberal arts historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU) that were related to the Presbyterian Church, among as many other HBCU schools they could fit into their schedule. Many of these schools were not widely known in the Bay Area, where many high school counselors were being laid off, making it unlikely that students would find out about these schools and the financial aid packages they offered. So an idea was born to introduce Bay Area students, particularly African American students, and their families to the university opportunities that exist. The plan was to help students especially seniors, who had not made up their minds on what college to attend or did not believe that they could go to a four-year institution. Now after 20 years, the Presbyterian couple and a board with a mix of faith-based and community-based organizations have worked tirelessly to present an annual program that includes college awareness nights and college awareness tours. As a nonprofit, the group receives funding from the Office of Racial Ethnic Ministries of the Presbyterian Church, USA; the Presbytery of San Francisco, Berkeley; East Oakland Rotary; and private donors. This program is open to junior and seniors regardless of race, creed, color or gender.  Annually, this program serves over 100 students through college fairs, presentations and personal interviews. The group depends on the efforts of its volunteer board:  Traci Harris, Vickii Collins, Jonathan Mobley, Nina Tanner Smith, Marilyn Stovall Bobino, Kathy Kennedy, Jean Gregory, Aumont Phipps, Anita Smith, Rev. Earl Dunnam, Chad Provost, Shani Provost and Xanthe McNeal. For information, email or call (510) 569-3864.
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