In 1965 the federal Higher Education Act led to the development of a trio of programs that continue to pay big dividends for Trenton students including Upward Bound, Student Support Services, and Educational Talent Search all of which are housed at Mercer County Community College’s James Kearney Campus.

Started in Trenton in the early 1980’s, Educational Talent Search serves 680 students annually and sends over 100 graduating seniors to post secondary enrollment at either MCCC or a four-year college or university. Their graduation rate far exceeds that of the State of New Jersey as 100% of their participants go on to graduate from high school and 74% choose to enroll in some form of post secondary education.

This success is attributed to the hands on work being done by program staff in their four target schools (Trenton Central High School, 9th Grade Academy, Daylight/Twilight, and Grace A. Dunn Middle School). Today the program is led by Ms. Peggy Brown who has started as the Assistant Director in 2003 and became the Executive Director in 2014.

When asked what has been most notable about the work, other than sending hundreds of Trenton seniors to college every year, Ms. Brown responded that it has been the relationships with staff and students that have been built over the years and have enabled the program to grow and become an integral part of Trenton’s education system.

The goals of Educational Talent Search are to:

  1. Increase the number of Trenton youth from low income backgrounds who enroll in and complete postsecondary education
  2. Provide co-curricular activities that facilitate the educational, cultural, and personal development of youth
  3. Advocate for youth to improve the quality of learning and provide strategic advice on educational issues

They accomplish this by:

  • Offering information on careers and helping students identify career opportunities.
  • Leading college visits such as upcoming visit to Monmouth, Rowan, Kean, and William Patterson Universities.
  • Providing detailed and accurate financial aid information to assist students will completing the FAFSA.
  • Helping students select the right college or program for them.
  • Assisting with college applications and obtaining applicable fee waivers such as for college applications, SAT, and ACT.
  • Providing tutoring assistance.
  • And much more!

In order to be eligible for Educational Talent Search a Trenton youth must:

  • Be at least 11 years old.
  • Reside in Trenton.
  • Demonstrate academic potential.
  • Meet low-income guidelines.
  • Complete application materials.
  • Come to a personal interview.

To learn more about Educational Talent Search or to enroll, visit

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