Ten high-ranking officials of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system will speak at places of worship this weekend to encourage more students of color and other underrepresented groups to prepare for and complete college.

Their goal is to provide information and support for parents as they help their children prepare for college and to encourage adults who haven’t completed a college-level program to do so.

The event, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Super Weekend, is part of a system initiative to broaden access to higher education for groups that have encountered societal and cultural barriers to post-secondary education. This is the fourth year the event has been held.

“Completing high school and college are the two most important steps that young people can take to secure a promising future for themselves,” said Chancellor James H. McCormick. “But I also have seen over the years that a college education gives individuals the skills, the knowledge and the drive to make the world a better place.

My message will be that it is important for young people to prepare themselves to be counted in the next generation of the Minnesota’s leaders.”

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, 81 percent of white students in the state graduate from high school in four years, compared with 40 percent of American Indian students, 65 percent of Asian students, 41 percent of African American students and 40 percent of Hispanic students.

McCormick will speak during the 11 a.m. Sunday service at Progressive Baptist Church in St. Paul. Other participating churches include Dayton Presbyterian Church, House of God and Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, all in St. Paul;  Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, Holy Rosary Catholic Church, Redeemer Lutheran church and Zion Baptist Church, all in Minneapolis; and Nu Way Missionary Baptist Church in St. Cloud.

“We are encouraged by the 18 percent increase we had this fall in the number of underrepresented students,” said Whitney Harris, executive director of diversity and multiculturalism for the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. “But we must continue to make substantial gains so all Minnesotans have access to the high quality of life many people have in this state.”

After the services, representatives from Minnesota State Colleges and Universities will be on hand to provide information on the admission process and to answer questions.

With nearly 40,750 students of color or more than 16 percent of the system’s enrollment, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system is the largest provider of higher education in the state for students of color.

The Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system comprises 32 state universities and community and technical colleges serving the higher education needs of Minnesota. The system serves about 260,000 students per year in credit-based courses and an additional 164,000 students in non-credit courses.