WINTERVILLE—The Office of U.S. Sen. Richard Burr recently notified Pitt Community College that the U.S. Department of Education has renewed grant funding for the college’s TRiO Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) program.
According to the letter of notification, Pitt will receive $236,900 for the first budget period, which began Sept. 1 and runs through Aug. 31, 2017. It is anticipated the grant will be administered for a total of five years.
Established at Pitt in 2011, EOC reaches out to adults from disadvantaged backgrounds who want to pursue an education but don’t know where to begin. The program’s goal, according to PCC TRiO Works Director LaTonya Nixon, is to increase the number of adults who complete a secondary school diploma (or equivalent) and enroll in a postsecondary institution.
Utilizing centers throughout Pitt County, including the PCC main campus in Winterville and the H.B. Suggs Community Center in Farmville, Nixon said EOC offers a variety of services, including college admissions information, college transfer assistance and financial aid information sessions. She said one of EOC’s most important objectives is to improve the financial and economic literacy of participants and assist them with applying for federal financial aid.
EOC services, Nixon said, are designed to help students “go where they want to go” and be prepared to focus on learning when they get there. She noted that the program is a recruitment tool for higher education in general, not just PCC.
To more effectively reach students, Nixon said EOC partners with a number of agencies, including NC Works in Pitt and Edgecombe counties, Pitt County Department of Social Services, STRIVE, Pitt County Schools, local housing authorities and the Pitt County Health Department. She said the program has also established a partnership with Edgecombe Community College to assist Edgecombe County residents.
Started in 1964, TRiO has grown to encompass eight initiatives, including EOC, that target and assist low-income individuals, first-generation college students and people with disabilities. Services are designed to help participants progress through the academic pipeline, from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.
Nixon said TRiO has played an active role at PCC since 2005. In addition to EOC, the college offers the TRiO Student Support Services (SSS) program, which aims to increase the retention and graduation rates of college participants through tutoring, workshops, campus visits, leadership development, counseling and academic planning, and college transfer assistance.
Together, EOC and SSS are known as TRiO Works at PCC, she said.