The annual budget of UT Austin is roughly $3 billion. But many Texas students attend small rural colleges with nowhere near those resources.
Now Dallas-based Economic Mobility Systems, the Rural Community College Alliance, and the Greater Texas Foundation (GTF) are launching a pioneering program to create more equitable college and workforce outcomes for rural Texas students.
The GTF is backing the Rural College Promise Campaign with a $3.1 million grant. The program will involve three rural colleges—Gainesville’s North Central Texas College; Denison’s Grayson College; and Tyler Junior College—and the rural communities they serve across north and east Texas.
The National College Promise Campaign and Phi Theta Kappa are supporting partners in the effort.
In addition to supporting local students and communities, the colleges will partner with EMS and RCCA to develop an affordable, scalable model for rural communities all across Texas. Eventually, they hope it will serve as a roadmap for all of rural America.
“The neighborhood schools of higher education”
“Rural community colleges are the neighborhood schools of higher education, serving the nearly 90 million Americans who live in our rural communities.” said Emily Klement, vice president, RCCA, in a statement.
“Many students in rural communities are economically disadvantaged, and a small percentage of them pursue higher education,” Klement added. “Our goal for the Rural College Promise program is to help more of our high school-graduating seniors enroll and complete a higher education degree, which is a critical requirement to securing more highly skilled living wage jobs that will be a catalyst for rural economic development.”
Access to leading-edge technologies
In addition to building a signpost toward more affordable college pathways, the grant will help provide access to leading-edge technologies designed by Economic Mobility Systems on equity platforms like Salesforce and GreenLight Credentials.
“Texas needs more intentional regional talent strategies to remain competitive in a fast-changing world,” said Sue McMillin, president and CEO of the Greater Texas Foundation. “Yet, too many young people in rural communities lack the opportunity and tools to get ahead, educationally, and economically. This grant is an investment to accelerate proven strategies and bring game changing technologies to rural communities.”
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