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Center for Community and Economic Development

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Dept. of Education awards $1.1 million for Delta Educational Opportunity Center

By | Academics, Center for Community and Economic Development, Community | No Comments

Delta State University’s Center for Community and Economic Development recently received news of a major grant from the Department of Education in the amount of $1,180,000 to establish the Delta Educational Opportunity Center.

The grant is for five years at $236,000 per year.

The overall goal of the DEOC will be to increase the number of adults who enroll in postsecondary education institutions. The program will provide counseling and information on college admissions to qualified adults who want to enter or continue postsecondary education.

Services will also be provided to improve the financial and economic literacy of participants. An important objective of the program is to counsel participants on financial aid options, including basic financial planning skills, and to assist in the application process.

“The DEOC will be very important for this region because the Mississippi Delta has some of the state’s poorest educational outcomes when it comes to obtaining a high school diploma or equivalent and graduating from college,” said David Tanner with the CCED. “I am looking forward to increased enrollment numbers and graduation rates at Delta State. Many jobs are requiring applicants to have certain skills acquired from a post-secondary education, and the DEOC will help strengthen the economy with workers who are skillfully trained.”

Another key figure to help secure the grant for the CCED was Robin Boyles, director of the Office of Institutional Grants at Delta State.

“There is such a need for an Educational Opportunity Center that serves the residents of the Mississippi Delta,” said Boyles. “Through the Delta EOC, adults will be able to obtain assistance through the oftentimes overwhelming steps required for college admission. Providing these services to help those desiring to enter post-secondary education is one more opportunity that we have to address and positively impact the educational and economic development needs of our community.”

The program will be one of the eight federal TRIO Programs, which are outreach and student services programs designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. TRIO works continuously to serve and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students and individuals with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.

Thanks to the grant, around 1,000 participants in 12 Delta counties will be serviced by DEOC. These counties include: Bolivar, Coahoma, Holmes, Humphreys, Issaquena, Leflore, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Tunica and Washington.

News of the grant also pleased Mississippi Congressman Bennie G. Thompson, who has worked hard to service those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

I am very pleased that Delta State University has been selected as a new recipient of an Educational Opportunity Center grant through the Department of Education’s TRIO programs,” said Thompson. “This will be the first time that counties in this area will benefit from this very important grant funding. Delta State has long worked as a community partner with counties in the Mississippi Delta to provide educational attainment opportunities and better health outcomes in the region. The programming that Delta State will put in place is yet another example of their continued commitment to the Mississippi Delta’s citizens and I applaud their efforts.”

Dr. Beverly Moon, dean of Graduate & Continuing Studies and Research at Delta State, is also thrilled to begin the DEOC venture.

We are so excited to be funded for this project, which we’ve been imagining and discussing for some time,” said Moon. “Finally, we were able to propose to the best possible funder, the Department of Education’s TRIO programming. The CCED’s 20-year history includes impactful programs in economic development, social justice, health services and educational programming. For a couple of years now, all of us involved with the CCED have worked specifically towards programming that would further the university’s positive impact on educational attainment levels.”

For more information, contact the CCED at 662-846-4808.

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CCED receives large grant to begin Delta Reads Plus

By | Academics, Center for Community and Economic Development, Community | No Comments

Delta State University’s Center for Community and Economic Development recently confirmed it would be one of 11 Mississippi organizations receiving grant funding from a $3.3 million AmeriCorps campaign to support nonprofit and educational organizations across the state.

The grant will support the new the Delta Reads Plus (DRP) project, which will be housed at the CCED on campus. DRP has received $263,761 thanks to the grant.

Through DRP, 50 AmeriCorps members will tutor students one-on-one in grades K-8 five days a week for the 2016-17 academic term in school districts in Bolivar, Coahoma, Leflore, Washington and Sunflower counties.

The program will help reach 400 economically disadvantaged students. Focus areas will include reading and math. The AmeriCorps tutors will guide the students to program completion by participating in 30 or more tutoring sessions.

“Delta Reads Plus is great news for both DSU and the local schools because some schools in the Mississippi Delta are facing low student achievement due to a perpetual lack of support and the economic disadvantages persistent in the area,” said David Tanner with the CCED. “Having AmeriCorps serve as tutors in these areas is a great way of leveraging resources and enhancing student achievement. DSU has a longstanding partnership with K-12 schools throughout the Mississippi Delta region and is committed to helping those schools succeed.”

According to Robin Boyles, director of the Office of Institutional Grants at Delta State, DRP is currently seeking school districts interested in receiving certified tutoring services within the five target counties.

“Delta State, through its Center for Community and Economic Development, has a long history of partnering with the Mississippi Commission on Volunteer Service and the Corporation for National and Community Service, to provide programming that addresses the needs of the Mississippi Delta region,” said Boyles. “Through the Delta Reads Plus project, we are furthering our commitment to addressing the region’s educational outcomes by focusing on increasing student achievement in reading and math.”

Interested districts are encouraged to contact Tanner at contact Tanner at 662-846-4808 or dtanner@deltastate.edu.

Statewide, the federal investment of the 11 grants totaling $3.3 million will support 546 AmeriCorps members. Through these grants, AmeriCorps members will support youth development and education programs serving Mississippi students in grades K-12, and help expand economic opportunities in all 82 Mississippi counties.

The Corporation for National and Community Service will also provide up to $1.6 million in education scholarships for the AmeriCorps members funded by these grants to help pay for college, vocational training, or repay student loans. The federal investment is projected to generate an additional $2.2 million in local support to increase community impact and return on federal investment.

“AmeriCorps members make a powerful impact on the toughest challenges facing our nation,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the CNCS. “Building on Mississippi’s strong tradition of neighbor helping neighbor, AmeriCorps members will improve lives and strengthen communities across the hospitality state. While they serve others, AmeriCorps members will also expand opportunity for themselves — gaining skills and experience to jumpstart their careers. I salute AmeriCorps members for their dedication, and thank our outstanding partners who make their service possible.”

Learn more about Delta State’s CCED at http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/graduate-and-continuing-studies/center-for-community-economic-development/.

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VISTA accepting applications

By | Center for Community and Economic Development | No Comments

In its fight against poverty, the AmeriCorps*VISTA program, under the direction of Linda Stringfellow, is now accepting applications for full-time members. Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) members focus on building sustainable programs by strengthening an organization’s infrastructure, expanding community partnerships, and securing long-term resources.

VISTA members will receive, in exchange for a 12-month commitment to service, a modest living stipend, an end of term education award or cash stipend, free health insurance, student loan forbearance or deferment, priceless skills development and much more.

“In combatting illiteracy, health concerns and economic despair, some of your efforts may include implementing marketing campaigns, coordinating educational workshops, recruiting other volunteers, or organizing fundraising efforts,” said Stringfellow.

May’s Member of the Month, Shannon Curtis, is a testament to impactful community change. Joining VISTA led her to Mississippi where helps build and sustain a viable local food system with the Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network and Sustainable Oxford.

During her first six months in Oxford, Curtis hosted monthly forums and potlucks concerning issues of sustainability, social justice, poverty, transportation, water issues and more. She facilitated discussions of food systems development during the LOU Homelessness Summit. Additionally, she also developed the MSAN program Sustainable Oxford by building a steering committee of more than 25 volunteers.

Curtis has built coalitions with partner organizations like the University Of Mississippi Office Of Sustainability, City of Oxford Recycling Department, McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, Leadership Lafayette, Oxford City Market, Mississippi Farm to School Network and more.

VISTA openings in Sunflower, Panola and Tunica counties are waiting to be filled.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen. Apply to the program at www.nationalservice.gov and select “I’m Ready to Serve.” Participants must also attend one of the recruitment sessions on either June 28 or June 30. Sessions will begin at 9:30 a.m.

For more information, contact Lakisha L. Butler, program associate for marketing and recruiting, at 662-846-4848 or kbutler@deltastate.edu.

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Delta Dollars helps with asset-building

By | Center for Community and Economic Development, General | No Comments

Delta State University and the Center for Community and Economic Development recently announced the successful completion of the asset-building program Delta Dollars.

Delta Dollars is an 8:1 matched individual development account program that focuses on financial literacy and post-secondary education. Since the spring of 2015, 19 participants have utilized Delta Dollars to accumulate a combined savings total of $9,730 — money students use to build financial assets needed to pursue their college education. A total of $66,641.55 has been disbursed for their post-secondary expenses at Delta State.

“Without the funding provided by this program, I would not have been able to graduate this semester,” said student Jammie Marquez. “I have been beset by difficulties that have required me to take extra classes. Knowing that I would be able to rely on my savings and funding from Delta Dollars made me confident that I could overcome those difficulties and add the courses without worrying about the added cost.”

Nursing student Gabrielle Windless shared the same appreciation for Delta Dollars.

“This is a great program,” she said. “I was able to stay on track towards graduation by attending summer school with the funds. I learned a lot from the self-paced financial literacy modules.”

A grant from Assets for Independence, a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Humans Services, funds approximately 50 percent of program costs. The remaining half is funded through non-federal sources. Other partners and contributors included Delta State University Foundation and Renasant Bank.

Learn more about the program and at http://www.deltastate.edu/academics/graduate-and-continuing-studies/center-for-community-economic-development/developing-personal-weath-program-dpw.

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AmeriCorps*VISTA seeking fulltime members

By | Center for Community and Economic Development, Community, General, Students, VISTA | No Comments

In its fight against poverty, the AmeriCorps*VISTA program, under the direction of Linda Stringfellow, is now accepting applications for full-time members.

Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) members focus on building sustainable programs by strengthening an organization’s infrastructure, expanding community partnerships and securing long-term resources.

In exchange for a 12-month commitment to service, VISTA members will receive a modest living stipend, an end-of-term education award or cash stipend, free health insurance, student loan forbearance or deferment, skills development and much more.

In combatting illiteracy, health concerns and economic despair, some VISTA efforts may include implementing marketing campaigns, coordinating educational workshops, recruiting other volunteers, or organizing fundraising efforts.

Openings in Sunflower, Washington, Coahoma, Tunica, Panola, Leflore, Holmes and Yazoo counties are waiting to be filled.

If you’re at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen, apply to the Mississippi Delta Service Corps/AmeriCorps*VISTA Program at www.nationalservice.gov, and select “I’m Ready to Serve.” You may also visit the Center for Community & Economic Development at Delta State, located on 1417 College St. in Cleveland.

For more information, contact Lakisha L. Butler, program associate for marketing and recruiting, at 662-846-4848 or e-mail kbutler@deltastate.edu.