Tyler Junior College has been awarded its first-ever Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education, a major boost to support its students.
This grant, totaling $440,000 annually for the next five years, will provide financial resources in support of TJC's mission to empower its diverse student population.
Part of the “Strengthening Institutions” program, the grant aims to uplift underserved students by enhancing academic quality, institutional management and fiscal stability.
Of the 12,000-plus students attending TJC annually, 78 percent rely on financial assistance and an ever-growing number are the first in their families to attend college. For these groups of students, the Title III grant will be transformative.
Research shows that students from underserved backgrounds often face unique challenges on their educational journey. They’re less likely to complete their degrees within six years, making additional resources crucial. TJC recognizes this need and is committed to providing support.
Over the past decade, TJC has already made significant strides in boosting student success. Programs like the Rusk TJC Citizens Promise, TJC Promise, and the College’s Quality Enhancement Program have transformed student outcomes. Through these initiatives, students benefit from dedicated coaches and mentors, which significantly improve their persistence, retention and academic performance.
The Title III grant will build on these successes by:
• Appointing a dedicated administrator and two success coaches to provide guidance on career and university transfer services
• Investing in continuous training for faculty and staff to ensure they stay responsive and well-equipped to support student success
• Establishing an endowment with the Tyler Junior College Foundation to ensure the long-term sustainability of these efforts
The primary goal is clear: to increase retention, graduation and persistence rates, ultimately leading to higher transfer rates to universities and better career placement.
This grant application was spearheaded by a TJC executive task force, led by Mitch Andrews, vice president of institutional advancement, and included members Dr. Kim Laird, Brad Gifford, Maggie Ruelle, and Britt Sabota.
One of only six colleges and universities in Texas selected for this coveted grant, TJC’s application received an almost-perfect score.
According to Mitch Andrews, “Student success is at the heart of TJC's mission, and this grant validates our efforts to serve students effectively. We are grateful to college personnel and community partners who have worked together to pave the way for this historic grant.”
TJC President and CEO Dr. Juan E. Mejia shared celebratory remarks. “Student success is community success,” he said, highlighting the College’s role as a catalyst for regional economic development. “TJC’s commitment to student success is unwavering, and this grant is a testament to the transformative work being done at the College. It is another step toward strengthening our impact on the community and empowering students to achieve their dreams.”