TRIO program receives $1.18 million grant from U.S. Dept. of Education

TJC's TRIO program has received an Educational Opportunity Center grant from the U.S. Department of Education to help thousands of adults get a degree or return to college for additional training.

TJC is one of only 35 first-time recipients nationwide to receive this federally funded grant. The selection process for the EOC grant was very competitive as only 143 of 376 eligible proposals were funded, said Brad Gifford, TJC TRIO project director.

The grant is a five-year award to TJC, in the amount of $235,999 per year for a total of $1,179,995 over the entire grant cycle. The grant will serve a four-county area including Smith, Cherokee, Van Zandt and Wood counties. 

The Educational Opportunity Center will be located on the TJC West Campus and employ four people to provide services to more than 1,000 participants per year. The center will provide college and vocational guidance to adults who may not otherwise quickly decipher the steps needed for vocational or college admissions and continued success through completion of a vocational program or college graduation.

“Current research indicates that by the year 2020, approximately 65 percent of all jobs will require some type of postsecondary education. TJC seeks to be in the forefront of efforts to increase the access to and availability of a college education in our East Texas community,” said Dr. Tam Nannen, TJC assistant vice president for academic affairs. “Over its five-year lifespan, the EOC grant will provide necessary funding to facilitate the matriculation of thousands of local students into college programs of study.”

The EOC program will provide advising and information on college admissions to qualified adults who want to enter or continue a program of postsecondary education as well as services to improve the financial and economic literacy of participants. An important objective of the program is to advise participants on financial aid options, including basic financial planning skills, and to assist in the application process.

In the 2016 EOC competition, grant proposals completed two Competitive Preference Priorities - Competitive Preference Priority 1: Improving Parent, Family and Community Engagement and Competitive Preference Priority 2: Supporting Military Families and Veterans. The goal of the EOC program is to increase the number of adult participants who enroll in postsecondary education institutions.

Participants will be connected to advisors who will assist in the selection and admission to programs best suited for them, financial aid guidance in completing the needed forms and information, as well as postsecondary course selection.

For those who may not have completed high school, help will be offered on secondary school re-entry or high school equivalency exam programs or other alternative education programs. 

U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said, “These grants will help guide adults toward acquiring skills they need for 21st century jobs. Education Opportunity Centers serve as unique information hubs for adults seeking more insight into the resources available to them in pursuing higher education, quality work, and the American Dream.”

Gifford said, “The Educational Opportunity Center will be a great resource for non-traditional, low-income, first generation, military families/veterans, and students with disabling conditions. The support and services provided by the TJC Educational Opportunity Center to residents of Smith, Cherokee, Van Zandt, and Wood counties will be able to improve the community’s engagement in the process of promoting the completion of secondary education/GED and supporting postsecondary enrollment and success.”

TJC also recognizes its community partners who provided support in the EOC application process and who will work with the EOC program to meet the grant’s objectives:
Postsecondary institutions: Stephen F. Austin State University, Kilgore College, Texas College, The University of Texas at Tyler, and Northeast Texas Community College

Community partners: Literacy Council of Tyler, The East Texas Lighthouse for the Blind, East Texas Workforce Solution, East Texas Cornerstone Assistance Network, Kelly Community Federal Credit Union, Wood County Community Supervision and Corrections Department and Smith County Community Supervision and Corrections Department

Veterans and military connect programs: TJC Veterans Affairs Office, Department of Veterans Affairs, Smith County

Other TRIO programs who collaborated: Southwest Association of Student Assistance Programs (SWASAP), Texas Association of Student Special Services Programs (TASSSP), Kilgore College – Student Support Services and Upward Bound Programs, Wiley College – Student Support Services Program, Navarro College – Student Support Services Program and the East Texas TRIO Alliance

For more information, contact Gifford by email at bgif@tjc.edu or by calling 903-510-2612.

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