BBCC receives $1.16 million Educational Opportunity Center grant

basalt rock column sign with big bend community college in metal letters

BBCC receives $1.16 million Educational Opportunity Center grant

MOSES LAKE — The Department of Education has awarded Big Bend Community College $1.16 million over the next five years to help expand educational opportunities for adults in the college’s service district through the opening of a TRIO Educational Opportunity Center.

The Educational Opportunity Centers (EOC) program is one of eight federal TRIO programs that provide services to first-generation and low-income students and adults pursuing higher education. The grant is awarded to institutions every five years.

Big Bend is home to three other TRIO programs- TRIO Upward Bound, TRIO Student Support Services, and TRIO Student Support Services STEM.

Funds from the EOC grant will help put additional college personnel into communities within the BBCC service district to provide counseling and information on college admissions to qualified adults who want to enter or continue a program of postsecondary education. The goal of the program is to increase the number of residents who enroll in postsecondary programs.

“This grant will double the amount of outreach personnel to do just that, go ‘OUT’ into our community and schools to provide critical enrollment services,” said Rafael Villalobos, EOC lead grant writer at Big Bend. “We’ll meet them where they are and help them reach their educational goals.” 

To do that, EOC staff will provide hands-on support in completing college admissions and financial aid applications and placement testing as well as provide first quarter advising and other academic and career counseling. Staff will also work with community-based organizations such as WorkSource, the state Department of Social and Health Services, Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) of Washington, and others that also support educational training opportunities.

The program aims to serve at least 1,000 participants a year with services that enable them to enroll in college or a secondary school completion program. Participants must be eligible for federal services (FAFSA), be low-income and/or first-generation.

Villalobos said the impact this grant will have on residents within the college’s service district is huge, as he knows first-hand the benefits Educational Opportunity Centers can have on students.

“I owe my entire transition from homelessness to a college-bound senior, to student employment, and the first seven years of my higher ed career to the Central Washington University TRIO-EOC based out of Yakima,” he said.

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