UW-Parkside receives $1.2 million in federal funding for Educational Opportunity Center

Published: October 4, 2022

Department of EducationSomers, Wis. - The University of Wisconsin-Parkside has been awarded a $1.2 million federal grant from the U.S. Department of Education to establish an Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) aimed at helping more adults in the region to complete four-year college degrees. 

The EOC project will be launched this fall and will be funded over five years through the TRIO Program, a federally funded grant program that provides services to individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Educational Opportunity Center will be housed at the UW-Parkside Center for Adult and Returning Students (CARS), which will oversee the program.  

The EOC aims to serve 850 participants annually and will be staffed with three full-time employees who will be hired by UW-Parkside this fall. It will target adults of working age in Racine, Kenosha, and Walworth counties in the southeast and Lake and McHenry counties in northeast Illinois. The population-dense target area is home to a high number of residents with low baccalaureate achievement rates who would benefit from an EOC at UW-Parkside. The EOC will give priority to low-income, minority, and veteran adults, as well as first-generation students. The program aims to close existing equity gaps in degree completion, which in turn can help program participants improve their earning potential and career advancement opportunities. 

“The EOC at UW-Parkside will equip hundreds of area residents with resources that can bolster their educational achievements, career success, and overall quality of life,” said Dana Roders, adult student program manager for Professional and Continuing Education at UW-Parkside. “We’re thrilled for this opportunity to serve our community and make a lasting difference in people’s lives.” 

The UW-Parkside Educational Opportunity Center will work in partnership with two- and four-year higher education institutions in the region, county workforce development offices, veteran services offices, and correctional facilities. The goal is to have participants apply for college admissions and enroll in postsecondary education. Participants without a secondary degree will have the opportunity to earn a high school diploma or its equivalent. Partnering institutions include Gateway Technical College, UW-Whitewater, and Herzing University.  

The need for an EOC to fill the education and skills gaps in the region is well documented. Of the 1.4 million residents in the target area, about 14 percent are low income, and 62 percent have yet to earn a bachelor’s degree. Of those, 85,645 (8.77 percent) are adults who do not yet have a high school diploma or its equivalent, and 521,561 (53.44 percent) hold a high school diploma but not a bachelor’s degree, according to 2019 Census and Department of Labor data. 

“Education beyond high school has never been more important than it is right now. Employers are struggling to fill much needed jobs in our community,” said Deann Possehl, UW-Parkside assistant provost for student success. “The EOC program will provide much needed support for adults in our community interested in pursuing additional education.” 

EOC staff will work with community partners to offer program participants access to information about postsecondary educational opportunities, career exploration services and workshops on financial literacy and college readiness. Staff will also assist program participants through the application and enrollment process for the program of their choice.  

“EOC staff will be working one-on-one with each program participant to help them set financial and career goals,” said Roders, who is coordinating the project. “This practice will help participants to identify their own incentives to enroll in and complete postsecondary degree programs.”  

The University of Wisconsin-Parkside is committed to high-quality educational programs, creative and scholarly activities, and services responsive to its diverse student population, and its local, national, and global communities. We are a dynamic learning community grounded in academic excellence and focused on student success, diversity, inclusion, and community engagement. The campus serves as a premier comprehensive public institution and a destination of choice, serving as a focal point of local, regional, and global progress.

Media contact:   

Dana Roders 
Adult Student Program Manager 
Professional and Continuing Education 
University of Wisconsin-Parkside  

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