Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, TRIO Educational Opportunities Centers will provide five years of funding to help 850 adult learners find their path to higher education

The U.S. Department of Education announced that Baton Rouge Community will receive a federal Educational Opportunities Center (EOC) grant of $1.16 million over the next five years to help unemployed workers, low-wage workers, and returning high school and college students enter or continue a program of postsecondary education.  

The EOC TRIO grant is the college’s third college access program. BRCC houses two TRIO Upward Bound programs whose purpose is to generate the skills and motivation necessary for first- gen and income eligible high students to complete secondary education and enter and succeed in a program of postsecondary education.  

In 2007, BRCC became the first community college to receive a pre-college TRIO program and remains one of the three community colleges in the state to offer pre college TRIO programs. The BRCC EOC Project will help 850 adult learners further their educations by exploring options for Adult Education or High School Equivalency programs; enrolling in college, university or vocational school; and obtaining financial aid for enrollment. Among comprehensive services are academic and personal counseling, tutoring and mentoring, career workshops, information on postsecondary education opportunities, student financial assistance, and help in completing applications for college admissions. EOC programs offer services to a broad range of adult learners, including those who are limited English proficient, from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education, individuals with disabilities, homeless individuals, youth aging out of the foster care system, and other disconnected students. 

The program’s target area includes 11 parishes: East and West Baton Rouge Parishes, Evangeline Parish, Pointe Coupee Parish, Livingston Parish, Iberville Parish, East and West Feliciana Parishes, St. Helena Paris, Tangipahoa Parish, and Washington Parish.  EOC began in 1972 and is part of a set of federal educational opportunity outreach programs known as “TRIO,” which is authorized by the Higher Education Act to help low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities succeed in higher education. In FY20, there were 139 Educational Opportunity Centers in America serving more than 192,000 adult learners nationwide.  

“We are excited to offer these services in our community and believe our programs, along with the support of others, can eliminate some of the barriers to higher education encountered by many of the individuals in our community, “said Dr. Darica N. Simon, Director of TRIO Programs and principal investigator of the EOC grant. “These are vital projects that not only improve individual lives, but also strengthen the community and help to meet the workforce needs of the state.” 

“As systemic inequality and financial hardship discourage students from succeeding in college, TRIO programs like EOC take on new importance because they continue to help guide un- and underemployed workers and returning high school and college students towards earning a degree,” said Maureen Hoyler, president of the non-profit Council for Opportunity in Education (COE) in Washington, D.C. COE is dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students, and students with disabilities nationwide.