Governors State University (GSU) was recently awarded $1.1 million U.S. Department of Education (DOE) TRIO grant to initiate a project to serve low-income individuals, first-generation college students, and individuals with disabilities as they progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.
The Governors State University Education Opportunity Center will be comprised of a coalition of local and regional schools, social services and community agencies, workforce investment boards, and businesses to lead outreach to adults who need economic and educational guidance, including financial literacy and financial aid counseling, as well as specialized support services.
More than 800 people from south suburban Cook, Kankakee, and Will counties in Illinois, as well as the western portions of Lake county Indiana will be served with the five-grant at $232,050 a year.
A federal outreach program, TRIO is designed to identify and provide services for individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. It includes eight programs targeted to serve and assist targeted communities, and also includes a training program for directors and staff of TRIO projects.
In the past, popular programs have included Upward Bound, Talent Search, Student Support Services, Educational Opportunity Center, and McNair.
GSU was one of three Chicagoland higher education institutions to receive the recent DOE award and will target populations facing increasingly difficult tasks of finding gainful employment in a region experiencing technological, economic, and cultural shifts.
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Corey Williams, who has successfully secured TRIO grants at other institutions, considers it a personal victory to bring the program back to GSU, which lost funding in 2011.
“This has been a labor of love for me to help expand resources for our students,’’ said Williams. “These programs will provide access to higher education and change the trajectory of our students’ lives.”
He said the next step to hire a program director, outreach and English Language Learner (ELL)/GED specialists by the end of the fall semester.