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.