Over 40 first-year students enter transformative program serving low-income and first-generation students 

Alvernia expands access to the transformative Reading Collegiate Scholars Program (RCSP) to meet the needs of students throughout Berks County. While still primarily serving the Reading School District, students from Governor Mifflin, Muhlenberg, Berks Catholic, Wyomissing, Daniel Boone, Antietam, and Oley High Schools have received additional grants to meet financial needs.  


“Meeting the financial needs of students in Berks County is one of our highest enrollment priorities,” said Alvernia President John R. Loyack. “This additional investment and continued expansion of the Reading Collegiate Scholars Program is central to our strategic plan and to our mission of serving the needs of the underserved in the community through education and driving economic redevelopment in downtown Reading and beyond.” 


Since its inception in 2014, the Reading Collegiate Scholars Program has assisted 65 scholars, with 33 already receiving an Alvernia degree. The expansion of access and inclusion has increased the program’s enrollment by 75% for the upcoming 2022-23 academic year, with over 40 students entering as first-year students.  


RCSP was designed to serve students from low income and first-generation backgrounds, providing the opportunity to attend a private university and a comprehensive support plan to assist in student success. The support plan includes the Bridge Program, which aids in the transition from high school to college by providing academic resources, the opportunity to meet various faculty and staff across campus and meet other scholars and form relationships before the semester starts. Operating in a cohort model, scholars participate in time management and study skill workshops, email etiquette training and tours to locate class locations. 


“The Reading Collegiate Scholars Program has a tremendous ecosystem designed to support low-income and first-generation college students,” said Senior Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs Mary-Alice Ozechoski. “From providing financial assistance to specialized bridge programming, our scholars are set up for success before, during and after their Alvernia experience.” 


In addition to the scholarships, the Reading Collegiate Scholars Program also features a College Readiness Program, which utilizes Alvernia work-study students as mentors and tutors for high school students in Reading while introducing those students to the possibility of attending college. Alvernia supported nearly 750 Reading School District students in 2021-22. More than 1,200 students have been assisted through the College Readiness Program. 


In addition to the Reading Collegiate Scholars Program, the Holleran Center for Community and Global Engagement’s Reading Youth Initiative has offered innovative educational programs to over 1,600 elementary students in the Reading School District. In 2021, the program expanded to support educational enrichment activities and afterschool programs for students from kindergarten through graduation.  


“Alvernia’s commitment to supporting and educating the students in Reading and Berks County is cemented in the outstanding outcomes provided by these transformative support programs,” said Alvernia Vice President for Mission, Diversity and Inclusion and Executive Director of the Holleran Center Dr. Darryl C. Mace. “The expanded access and inclusion of the Reading Collegiate Scholars Program will continue to inspire, open doors, and provide a solid educational foundation for Berks County students for generations to come.”