Auburn University Outreach receives grant from State Farm for college prep initiative at Loachapoka High School

AUBURN – Auburn University’s outreach division has received a $58,000 grant from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board, or YAB, to develop a service-learning based preparatory program at Loachapoka High School to help students enter and perform better in college, and ultimately qualify for better jobs. Auburn was one of 82 organizations to receive a grant from across the U.S. and Canada. There were more than 1,100 grant proposals submitted for this year’s YAB grants.

The funding will support programs developed as part of a partnership between the university, Loachapoka Schools, Lee County School District and Verizon. The initiative will utilize Auburn faculty and students in service-learning strategies to improve Loachapoka students’ ability to enter and be successful in college. Programs will focus on building computer and technological skills as well as math, reading and writing.

“This initiative will help students in this community expand their view of the possibilities of college and career,” said project administrator Leary Bell, director of faculty engagement and program development in University Outreach.

State Farm supports service-learning as part of the company’s long history of investment in communities and public education, according to Emily Clark, State Farm public affairs specialist.

“State Farm supports service-learning because it combines service to the community with classroom curriculum in a hands-on approach to mastering subject material while fostering civic responsibility,” Clark said. “The State Farm Youth Advisory Board is a prime example of State Farm’s commitment to education, our community and our youth.”

The company’s goals parallel the university’s strategic objectives supporting K-12 partnerships and service-learning. “State Farm’s grant helps us meet our engagement objectives with the Loachapoka School as well as providing a valuable service experience for Auburn students,” said Royrickers Cook, assistant vice president for University Outreach.

The initiative includes a number of internal and external partners in addition to University Outreach. The College of Education and its Truman Pierce Institute and the College of Sciences and Mathematics will support program development and administration. Verizon has agreed to partner with the project for technological support. School officials and faculty at Loachapoka will oversee the involvement of their students in the program. Loachapoka senior students will also work with the Auburn students in mentoring their junior classmates.

The effort will begin with mentoring for seventh- and eighth-grade students on topics including study skills, time management, problem solving, communications skills, goal setting and test-taking skills. In the ninth grade, students will receive a laptop computer and learn computer and technology skills to enrich their learning experience in all areas of study. In the eleventh and twelfth grades, students will receive an intense pre-college experience, involving enhanced reading, writing and math education and test-taking skills. Students will also participate in seminars on the Auburn campus on campus life, enrollment and financial aid. Auburn will provide a “Family University” for parents, offering a wide range of support services to enable them to better support and prepare their children for college, tutoring and remediation, and career development.

Photo: Auburn University’s outreach division received a $58,000 grant Tuesday from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board to develop a service-learning based preparatory program at Loachapoka High School to help students enter and perform better in college. Pictured, left to right, are Ralph Foster, University Outreach; Leary Bell, University Outreach; Auburn President Jay Gogue; Auburn Assistant Vice President for Outreach Royrickers Cook; Tom Bryan, State Farm; Scott Holley, State Farm; Loachapoka High School Principal Jim Wilkerson; Kathy Powell, State Farm; and Brian Snyder, State Farm.

Contacts: Ralph Foster, (334) 844-5118 (, or
Charles Martin, (334) 844-9999 (