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Mount Wachusett Community College Awarded Federal Grant to Help Displaced and Underemployed Adults Continue Path to Higher Education

The U.S. Department of Education announced that Mount Wachusett Community College will receive a federal Educational Opportunities Center (EOC) grant of $273,793 to help unemployed workers, low-wage workers, and returning high school and college students enter or continue a program of post-secondary education.

In operation since September 2002, The North Central Educational Opportunity Center at Mount Wachusett Community College annually assists over a thousand area adults to pursue their educational goals.

The North Central Educational Opportunity Center provides counseling and information on college admissions and services to improve participants’ financial and economic literacy. Among comprehensive services are academic and personal counseling, tutoring and mentoring, career workshops, information on post-secondary education opportunities, student financial assistance, including FAFSA completion, and help in completing college applications. 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 renewal of this grant is evidence of the exemplary work our EOC staff does to support adult learners in our communities,” stated James Vander Hooven, President of MWCC. “The TRIO programs exemplify our mission to be a lifelong learning community dedicated to excellence.”

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 the 2020 Fiscal Year there were 139 Educational Opportunity Centers in America serving more than 192,000 adult learners nationwide.

“The North Central Educational Opportunity staff is excited to continue providing educational access services to the region’s adult population,” stated program director Valerie LaPorte.

“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 unemployed and underemployed workers and returning high school and college students towards earning a degree,” said Maureen Hoyler, president of the D.C. based non-profit Council for Opportunity in Education (COE). The COE is dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students, and students with disabilities nationwide.