An agency in downtown Leavenworth is helping people experience a different reality through education.

An agency in downtown Leavenworth is helping people experience a different reality through education.

TRIO Educational Opportunity Centers, 110 S. 5th St., helps people realize their potential, said agency director Eric Patterson.

“I tell people all of the time, “You probably have heard of drug dealers, but we are hope dealers,’” Patterson said.

TRIO motivates and assists low-income, first-generation college students and disabled adults who want to begin, resume or continue their education beyond the secondary level.

Patterson and his staff help clients apply for financial aid and scholarships. They also help people prepare to take the GED test. TRIO also offers a tutoring service.

The agency also helps people fill out college admission applications and gives career and academic advice. TRIO also hosts workshops on college and career opportunities as well as managing finances.

Patterson said TRIO began in 1965 as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

TRIO is not an acronym. The name derives from the agency’s three original programs, including Educational Talent Search, Upward Bound and Student Support Services.

TRIO is a federally funded program in the U.S. Department of Education.

“The focus of the program is to help families get out of poverty,” Patterson said.

Patterson said the agency serves more than 1,000 people each year in Leavenworth and Franklin counties. Clients include middle school students and adults.

“You are never too young or old,” he said. “We serve the whole family.”

The TRIO program is free. Patterson said the only cost is time.

“You can’t help people who aren’t ready to be helped,” he said. “There is no magic pill.”

Patterson said the agency also offers free tours of colleges to help people get exposed to the college environment.

Patterson said the agency will serve anyone seeking help.

“We don’t turn anyone away,” he said.

The Leavenworth office opened in December 2016. Since then, Patterson said TRIO has served more than 2,000 clients.

For more information about TRIO, call 913-912-3621 or send email to