Eric Patterson is director of the Leavenworth and Franklin County TRIO Educational Opportunity Center. In this Q5 he talks about the new center in downtown Leavenworth.

Eric Patterson is director of the Leavenworth and Franklin County TRIO Educational Opportunity Center. In this Q5 he talks about the new center in downtown Leavenworth.

1. Eric, what is the TRIO Educational Opportunity Center?
The TRIO Educational Opportunity Center (EOC) in Leavenworth, is a federally funded educational outreach program designed to empower historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged high school seniors and adults advance their post-secondary education.
 
2. Can you explain the program’s goal of collaborating with existing organizations and affiliates to empower families, students and community-driven projects?
Our goal is to make sure that everyone in Leavenworth County knows, a new future is closer than you think, and that future is our priority. To reach these goals we have found that working with existing organizations is key. We know we can’t do it all, by collaborating, we can offer stronger resources in one place, and not make people travel to multiple locations. To reach our goal, we have four main objectives:  To help 15 percent of participants in the program each year, whom do not have a high school diploma or a GED obtain a diploma or GED (We can work with high school seniors and older, there is no age maximum, but we can't serve anyone that is younger than a high school senior.
To help ensure that 70 percent of participants in the program each year apply for financial aid (FAFSA)
To help 50 percent of participants in the program each year that are not already enrolled in post-secondary education, apply for admission into a post-secondary program.
To help 40 percent of participants in the program each year that are not already enrolled in post-secondary education, enroll into a program.
 
3. Why is this such a valuable program for increasing the number of adults enrolling in postsecondary education and why is it important to empower the historically underrepresented and economically disadvantaged adult learners?
I’m often asked what historically underrepresented means? This refers to individuals throughout history that have been misrepresented in societal and political arenas such as education, career path and even where they live. The results of the misrepresentation giving some groups more resources and influence while others have little to none. The lack of resources can lead individuals to become economically disadvantaged. The term historically underrepresented goes beyond race and ethnicity, and at the EOC we empower our participants with the knowledge that they can gain more education at any age. Post-secondary education is different for everyone, and we encourage participants to explore what makes them happy and how to turn their jobs into careers. The true value of the EOC lies in the individuals that we work with, their ambition combined with our direction can lead to Leavenworth County’s educational attainment level rising. Higher levels of education can lead to better opportunities in the workforce, higher paying jobs can lead to more money to spend in stores, attend movies, and help lift the local economy. Our program and our staff, brings hope, and that is valuable.
 
4. What are some of the specific things that TRIO does to help people with postsecondary education and help Leavenworth County increase the educational attainment level?
We provide the following services:
Assistance applying for financial aid and scholarships
Career and academic guidance
Application assistance for admission to college or other post-secondary options
Help preparing for the GED
Tutoring in all subjects
Workshops:
College 101
Career Exploration
Managing Your Brand
Money 101
Give Yourself Credit
Managing Your ID
 
5. Who can participate and how can people find out more information?
EOC assistance is free and available to U.S. citizens and permanent residents who:
Reside in Leavenworth County or Franklin County
Express a desire to enroll in a post-secondary educational program
Need help with the college admissions and financial aid application process
Have low to moderate household income
Have parents that did not graduate from a college or university  with a four-year degree
Need help to re-enroll in college or transfer from a two-year to four-year college
Need information about how to resolve issues related to a student loan default
Want help finding a career path
Just curious about what we do
 
Call 913-912–3621 (EOC1)
Stop by our office at 110 S. 5th Street  (Downtown Leavenworth)
Email us: trio-eoc-lvfr@ku.edu
Twitter: @TRIO_EOC_KU
Facebook: @KUTRIOEOC (TRIO Educational Opportunity Center at the University of Kansas)

— Rimsie McConiga