Tyler Junior College and two other Texas community colleges have been awarded a $3.1 million Greater Texas Foundation grant to pioneer a Rural College Promise program.
This grant is the largest award given by the Greater Texas Foundation during their current funding year.
The Rural College Promise program aims to increase access to affordable college pathways and opportunities for living-wage jobs in rural counties across East Texas.
Currently, only 20 percent of East Texas high school graduates go on to complete a higher education certificate or degree, which is a critical requirement to securing more highly skilled jobs that can provide a living wage.
Funded by a grant from the Greater Texas Foundation — with additional support from the Rural Community College Alliance, the National College Promise Campaign and Phi Theta Kappa — the program will build on the success of the Texas Talent Regions, which includes the Dallas County Promise, Alamo Promise, Tarrant To and Through (T3), and the TJC Promise, tailored to the needs of rural communities.
In addition to supporting local students and communities, TJC will work in partnership with two other community colleges, Grayson College and North Central Texas College, to develop a repeatable, affordable and scalable model for rural communities across Texas, and potentially, across America.
In December 2016, 192 freshmen from Tyler ISD’s two high schools — along with their parents — signed the Tyler TJC Promise pledge to meet the standards of the program during their high school years.
In 2014, TJC launched the Rusk TJC Citizens Promise — the first rural, community-based “promise” program in Texas — followed by the broader TJC Promise in 2016. The TJC Promise Program is a six-year, comprehensive program that spans from ninth grade through the first two years of college. The TJC Promise encourages eligible students to perform well academically in high school and college, while limiting the number of missed school days and promoting community service.
Students who fulfill the Promise requirements receive support and encouragement from dedicated success coaches to obtain a college degree or certificate from TJC. The program covers tuition and fees for up to two years through a combination of federal grants and TJC scholarships as well as scholarships to specifically support the TJC Promise.
During Fall 2020, students in the inaugural cohort of the TJC Promise began their collegiate experience at the College. After one year at TJC, Promise participants are outperforming their first time in college (FTIC) counterparts in areas such as cumulative GPA, completed semester hours and persistence from semester to semester.
“The ability for a community to inspire and develop talent is the cornerstone of a healthy regional economy,” TJC President Dr. Juan E. Mejia said. “Community colleges play a central role in developing Texas Talent, and we are energized to be learning with other regional initiatives as part of this grant as well as along with many other Texas Talent Regions.”
“Texas needs more intentional regional talent strategies to remain competitive in a fast-changing world,” said Sue McMillin, president and CEO of the Greater Texas Foundation. “Yet too many young people in rural communities lack the opportunity and tools to get ahead, educationally and economically. This grant is an investment to accelerate proven strategies and bring game-changing technologies to rural communities.”
About Tyler Junior College: TJC is a great first choice for anyone seeking to acquire the skills needed to enter the workforce or for those who want to gain the training and knowledge to transfer to a four-year university. Offering more than 115 degree and certificate programs, TJC enrolls approximately 12,000 students each semester. Since 1926, TJC has embodied the true sense of the term “community college,” as reflected in its core values of unity, caring, integrity, empowering and excellence. www.tjc.edu
About North Central Texas College: Officially established May 20, 1924 and originally named Gainesville Junior College, North Central Texas College is the oldest continuously operating two-year college in Texas and a true pioneer of public community college in the state. With six campuses located throughout North Texas, NCTC offers its 10,000+ students a variety of degree types in diverse areas of instruction. Participating campuses include Bowie, Gainesville and Graham. www.nctc.edu
About Grayson College: Grayson College serves over 4,000 students each term through six pathways and 60+ degrees and certificate programs in university transfer and technical programs. The College’s mission is student success. The two campuses in Denison and Van Alstyne have undergone a multi-year, multi-million dollar renovation and expansion. grayson.edu
About Greater Texas Foundation: Greater Texas Foundation supports initiatives that increase rates of postsecondary enrollment and completion for all Texas students, with a particular focus on students who may encounter barriers to postsecondary success. GTF is a private foundation headquartered in Bryan, Texas. Since inception, GTF has approved more than $104 million in grants to support Texas students. www.greatertexasfoundation.org
About Rural Community College Alliance: The Rural Community College Alliance (RCCA) helps its member institutions serve the 89.3 million people who reside in rural America. We seek to promote a more economically, culturally, and civically vibrant rural America through advocacy, convening, leveraging resources, and serving as a clearinghouse for innovative practice, policy, and research. www.ruralccalliance.org
About Economic Mobility Systems: Makes socioeconomic mobility possible by helping regional ecosystems work together with proven school to work strategies and cutting-edge equity platforms that place the student at the center of the regional talent equation. EMS helps regional partners organize and use real time data across the school to work continuum to create a best-in-class continuous improvement model for regional talent. www.economicmobilitysystems.org
About National College Promise Campaign: The National College Promise Campaign is a national, non-partisan, non-profit initiative that builds broad public support for funding the first two or more years of postsecondary education for hard-working students, and ensuring those students have access to quality educational opportunities and supports. www.collegepromise.org
About Phi Theta Kappa: For more than 100 years, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society has helped millions of high-achieving college students reach their full potential. The Society doesn’t just recognize academic success; it gives students opportunities to develop professional and leadership skills, earn scholarships, explore career paths — and make their worlds a lot bigger. www.ptk.org