AUGUST 15, 2016
The U.S. Department of Education today announced the award of $48 million in grants to 143 colleges and organizations in 42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico under the Educational Opportunity Centers (EOC) program – all aimed at promoting college readiness for more than 196,000 adults.
The grants will provide readily accessible college guidance to adults who may not otherwise quickly decipher the steps needed for college admissions and continued success through graduation.
"These grants will help guide almost 200,000 adults toward acquiring the skills they need for 21st century jobs," said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. "Educational Opportunity Centers serve as unique information hubs for adults seeking more insight into the resources available to them in pursuing higher education, quality work and the American Dream."
EOC grants, five years in duration, will assist adults in gaining the skills necessary for pursuing postsecondary credentials.
Participants will be connected to tutors, mentors and counselors for guidance on admission, financial aid and postsecondary course selection. For those who may not have finished high school, help will be offered on secondary school re-entry or high school equivalency exam programs – or other alternative education programs for secondary school dropouts.
EOC projects also provide services to students traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education, including students with disabilities, limited English proficiency, and other disadvantaged groups, such as those who may be homeless, exiting foster care or otherwise disconnected.
This investment in adult college readiness is particularly noteworthy given recent workforce projections estimating that nearly 65 percent of all jobs in the economy will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school.
Of the 143 applicants who competed successfully in the FY 2016 competition, 119 applicants will begin new awards in the 2016-2017 project year and future awards will be made to 24 applicants with one or more years remaining on their current grants. This year's grant competition marked the first year of incorporating logic models into assessments of applicants' service delivery plans.
Educational Opportunity Centers are one of eight federal grant programs collectively known as the Federal TRIO Programs. TRIO Programs identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. They help low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.
The Obama Administration has taken a number of steps to widen access to higher education by boosting Pell Grant funding, streamlining the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and maintaining low interest rates on federal subsidized Stafford loans.