UA Little Rock TRIO program receives $1.2 million grant to create educational outreach center for Arkansas Delta region

Members of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock TRIO Talent Search staff include: Back row (left to right) Crystin Amato, Michita Merriweather, Rachel Vanveckhoven, Elena Maina, Billy Huggins, and Jermaine Rudd. Front row (left to right): Brandon Scaife, Sandra Carmona Garcia, Linda Barker, and Shanikia Williams.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock TRIO program received a five-year Educational Opportunity Grant worth nearly $1.2 million to help Arkansans in the Delta region enroll in postsecondary education programs. 

Linda Barker, director of the TRIO Educational Talent Search and Educational Opportunity Center programs at UA Little Rock, received a five-year grant totaling $1,179,985 from the U.S. Department of Education. TRIO will receive $235,997 a year from 2016 to 2021 to provide services to 1,000 participants in the Arkansas Delta.

“There is a need in the Delta region for our type of services, and there is not an existing center in that area,” Barker said.

With the Delta Educational Opportunity Center program, TRIO staff members will travel to community partners like workforce services, veterans affairs offices, and school districts to serve people in the 12-county area.

TRIO recently hired three staff members and has already started helping people in Jefferson County. Brandon Scaife, project director of the Delta Educational Opportunity Center, said the center will expand its services to additional target counties in the upcoming months.

The new center will provide guidance, academic and financial aid information, and assistance throughout the year to adults who wish to advance their academic career at a postsecondary institution.

Workshops, financial aid information, computer lab tutorials, entrance exam preparation, individual counseling, and computerized placement exams will be available to participants.

According to the 2013 American Community Survey, Arkansas ranks second highest in percentage of low-income working families. In the Delta region, 21 percent of residents live on a low income, and 86 percent of adults do not have a post-secondary degree, which is becoming imperative to obtaining a successful career.

Through participation in the program, Arkansans can access the services necessary to enroll in a post-secondary institution and create a comprehensive plan for academic and career success.

In the upper right photo, members of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock TRIO Talent Search staff include: Back row (left to right) Crystin Amato, Michita Merriweather, Rachel Vanveckhoven, Elena Maina, Billy Huggins, and Jermaine Rudd. Front row (left to right): Brandon Scaife, Sandra Carmona Garcia, Linda Barker, and Shanikia Williams. 

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