Students and staff working in the Opportunity Programs office.
Hamilton College has been awarded a five-year $3,159,044 grant from the New York State Department of Education to support its Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP). It is the largest HEOP grant the College has ever received.

HEOP was established by the New York State Legislature in 1969 to provide students from economically and educationally disadvantaged backgrounds access to independent colleges and universities.

Hamilton’s Opportunity Programs (OP) consists of students from New York admitted through the state’s HEOP and students admitted through Hamilton’s Scholars Program who live outside of New York and/or have a family income that exceeds HEOP guidelines. There are approximately 160 students in Hamilton’s OP, with 35-40 new students enrolling each year.

We talked with Aaron Ray, Hamilton’s director of OP, about this latest grant and the impact it will have on the College’s program.

What will this grant money specifically be used for?

This money will support students who are at Hamilton specifically through HEOP to supplement support on campus, such as tutoring, financial aid, access to academic technology, visiting graduate schools, applying to graduate schools, funding to attend conferences, etc.

What makes this grant unique?

This is the same grant we’ve received in the past; this cycle we received the most we’ve ever received before. What makes this funding unique is that it was obtained through a competitive process (the funding is not guaranteed, and there are institutions that did not receive the funding). This funding allows for Hamilton and the Opportunity Programs to support students in ways that the College doesn’t normally support. With so many of our students identifying as first-gen, the funding helps us keep the loans and other expenses students have to a minimum.

When will you receive the grant money?

The grant is dispersed at various points of the academic year, typically three times per year. 

It was a true team effort to secure this funding, just like it is a full team effort to support this program on campus.

What enabled Hamilton to receive this grant?

It was a very collaborative process. I worked with the academic resource directors, Heather Martinez, Kaitlin Oliver, and Jan Scheutzow, as well as the Institutional Research Office.

Hamilton has a long and rich history of supporting our Opportunity Programs. Because of the support that we receive from various departments around campus, we’ve been able to build a strong and comprehensive program that far exceeds the expectations of the state. When it came to submitting our proposal, I had great support from folks from almost every division, and [Dean of Faculty] Ngoni Munemo, [Vice President for Enrollment Management] Monica Inzer, and [Dean of Engaged Education] KinHo Chan through their input and feedback. It was a true team effort to secure this funding, just like it is a full team effort to support this program on campus.

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Hamilton is among several New York State colleges that administer the Arthur O. Eve Higher Education Opportunity Program, known on the Hill as simply “the Opportunity Program” or just “OP.” The Opportunity Program, designed to support students whose transition from high school to college may be made more difficult by their educational, socioeconomic, or personal circumstances, helps 30 to 40 new students each year acclimate to the College’s academic standards and social life.

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