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South Louisiana Community College

South Louisiana Community College will use a $1.1 million federal grant to encourage and guide adults from St. Martin, Iberia and St. Mary parishes into academic or workforce programs.

The two-year institution with nine campuses in eight parishes — there are two campuses in St. Mary — has been awarded a five-year grant to provide college admissions and support services to underserved populations within the southern region of SLCC’s service area. St. Martin and Iberia parishes also have SLCC campuses.

“With the awarding of this grant, SLCC will be able to greatly expand access to college for all underserved populations in the southern region,” said SLCC Chancellor Vincent June. “This can be a game-changer for so many people who never believed they could attend college or have the resources to access post-secondary education.”

The grant is from the TRiO Educational Opportunity Centers program and is structured to serve groups who are traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education, students with disabilities, students who are homeless children and youths, students who are in foster care or are aging out of the foster care system, or other disconnected students. The program also provides services for students who are limited English proficient.

Andre Perez, executive director for academic and strategic initiatives, said SLCC applied for two grants to serve their northern and southern regions. The U.S. Department of Education notified SLCC in August that it had funded the plan for the latter region.

“Our main intent is access. A lot of people cannot make it to our campus,” Perez said. He said SLCC will partner with area agencies — Acadiana Workforce Solutions, Beacon Community Corrections, Catholic Charities of Acadiana, Goodwill Acadiana and LEDA, among them — to reach out to potential students 19 and older to help point them toward education and training opportunities to prepare themselves for good jobs.

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June said before applying for the grant, SLCC looked at census and workforce data and high school attainment in the region to determine what potential students might need. He said he expects to enroll students who have no high school, some high school, high school diplomas but no associate’s degrees and even those with associate’s degrees but no bachelor’s degrees.

“The data spoke loudly to us in how we chose the areas,” he said.

Perez said the grant does not include scholarship money. It provides funding for a full-time program manager, a full-time outreach coordinator and a part-time program specialist. The three will be stationed at the Iberia campus, but will “float” to St. Martin and St. Mary campuses.

He said the three employees will start around Nov. 1 and try to guide students toward enrollment for the spring semester.

Through the grant, SLCC will provide information on attaining a high school equivalency diploma, going to college and getting financial assistance to pay for school. Participants can also receive assistance with completing applications for college admissions, testing and financial aid, in addition to counseling services, career workshops and guidance on career selection and college programs.

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