Educational Opportunities Center will open at GSCC after obtaining a grant

Gadsden State Community College recently received a grant that will allow it to establish the Cheaha Educational Opportunity Center Project, according to a press release.

The grant stands at $ 232,500, according to the release. The COU will serve the counties of Etowah, Cherokee, Cleburne and Calhoun. The project itself is a federal TRIO program, which are federal outreach and student services programs with the aim of identifying and providing services to people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“The Educational Opportunities Center will provide opportunities for academic development and help students apply for college enrollment and financial aid,” said Pam Johnson, dean of Institutional Effectiveness, Grants and Special Projects at Gadsden State, in the press release. “It will also serve to motivate students to successfully complete their high school equivalency and post-secondary education.

Specifically, the statement states that the EOC should provide the following: academic tutoring, advice and assistance in choosing courses, assistance in preparing for university entrance exams, assistance in completing the admission application at university, help with applying for financial aid, orientation on high school re-entry or entry into a GED program, career workshops and seminars for academic counseling and counseling and financial literacy.

“The goal of the Cheaha EOC project is to increase the number of adult participants who enroll in college,” Johnson continued. “We will work closely with adult education services to bring adult learners to college. We want to help them get a degree that can be used to improve their chances of employability. “

According to the recent census, the eastern part of the state, where the areas to be served by the COU are located, has a 43.2% low-income population. In addition, 16.5 percent have less than a high school diploma and 82.9 percent have less than a bachelor’s degree.

“Our region has a large pool of low-income and potential first-generation students to serve,” Johnson said.

There are two particular areas that often seem to be viewed as the main barriers to enrolling adult learners in college, and the COU is particularly intended to help eliminate these issues.

“We will help them apply for financial aid and apply to their college of interest,” Johnson said. “It can be intimidating, but we’re here to help you through the process.

“We will give them the boost they need to continue their education,” she continued. “Many first-generation students have no one to help them with the early stages of college enrollment, let alone help them after graduation. We are here to provide them with that support.

An added benefit of the EOC is that it will go a long way in responding to the Success Plus initiative of Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, which aims to develop a skilled labor pool of 500,000 ready-to-use employees. employment by 2025.

“If we are to meet the governor’s goal, we have to hire people from the adult population,” Johnson said. “We need to motivate adults to take training for the many high paying and high demand jobs available in our state. “

Currently, there are seven TRIO programs in Gadsden State, including the EOC. They include two Upward Bound programs, two talent scouting programs, student support services and an Upward Bound veterans program. The founding of the EOC project means that the GSCC is one of only two community colleges in the state to have an EOC.

The goal of the EOC project is to serve up to 850 eligible participants each year during the first five-year grant life cycle. A program director, who will be headquartered at GSCC’s Wallace Drive campus and serve Etowah County students, will be hired with the funds, along with two full-time outreach counselors.

One of the advisers will serve students from Calhoun and Cleburne counties at the Ayers Campus in Gadsden State. The second will be located on the Gadsden State Cherokee campus.

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