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EGCC gets grant for program

October 23, 2011
From staff reports , The Herald-Star

STEUBENVILLE -Eastern Gateway Community College will benefit from a $214,127 grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Education under the Educational Opportunity Center Program.

The funding is for the first year of the five-year grant program. Funding for all five years could total nearly $1.1 million.

The grant targets the Mahoning Valley, which is in the heart of the college's 2008 expansion area. The area is considered low-income and has been hard-hit by the economic downturn. Only a third of the target high school graduates enroll in post-secondary education, and a small percentage of those over 25 hold bachelor's degrees. EGCC said it plans to give a thousand of these low-income, first-generation, veteran and service-connected individuals hope for the future through personal counseling as well as financial aid and academic guidance to attend any higher education institution.

The ESC staff and mentors will provide emotional support and role modeling; career exploration and guidance; workshops geared to age and educational levels to gain self-esteem and understanding of high school or college life; financial literacy; referral to other services; and exposure to the world of four-year colleges and universities. Families and area community services will be involved.

"Eastern Gateway is thrilled to have been chosen for this very useful grant program. Students in all walks of life, but especially low-income, first-generation students, are in need of support to help them reach their higher education goals," said Laura Meeks, EGCC president. "This will help put out the welcome mat for entrance into higher education and help to plan for exiting with a degree or career training in hand."

The college received notification of the grant approval from the offices of U.S. Sen. Rob Propman, R-Ohio, and U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta.

Objectives of the grant include :

20 percent of participants will graduate from high school or its equivalent each year.

90 percent of participants will apply for financial aid each year.

80 percent of college ready participants will apply to post-secondary education each year.

75 percent will enroll in post-secondary education each year.

The Educational Opportunity Center will be open to all Mahoning Valley residents, not just Eastern Gateway students. It will be established late this fall in the college's Valley Center inside the Northside Medical Center, Gypsy Lane, Youngstown. In conjunction with its opening, the Valley Center will be relocated to the Choffin Career and Technical Center, Youngstown in January. Three full-time positions for program coordinator, outreach coordinator and secretary will be filled.

On the Jefferson County Campus in Steubenville, the college uses its TRiO Student Support Services/Academic Advising program to help students with opportunities for academic development, to assist them with basic college requirements and to motivate students toward the successful completion of their post-secondary education. The program started in 2005 with a five-year DOE $1.1 million grant which was renewed in 2010 with an additional $1.2 million federal grant.

The DOE noted the Educational Opportunity Centers program provides counseling and information on college admissions to qualified adults who want to enter or continue a program of postsecondary education. The program also provides services 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 goal of the EOC program is to increase the number of adult participants who enroll in postsecondary education institutions.

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