The U.S. Department of Education announced that Danville Community College will receive another five-year federal TRIO Educational Opportunity Center grant of $1.36 million to help high school seniors, unemployed workers, low-wage workers and returning high school and college students enter or continue a program of post-secondary education.

The Southern Piedmont Educational Opportunity Center serves the five counties of Franklin, Halifax, Henry, Patrick and Pittsylvania along with the cities of Danville and Martinsville and has assisted more than 20,000 participants with college access services over 18 years.

The SP-EOC program provides assistance with completing college admission and financial aid or FAFSA applications, academic and career counseling, college search, transfer assistance and scholarship opportunities for any two-year, four-year college/university or trade/vocational school.

Other comprehensive services include intensive follow-up, career assessments, financial and economic literacy, and SAT preparation workshops. EOC programs offer services to a broad range of adult learners, including those who are limited English proficient, from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in postsecondary education, individuals with disabilities, homeless individuals, youth aging out of the foster care system and other disconnected students.

EOC began in 1972 and is part of a set of federal educational opportunity outreach programs known as “TRIO,” which is authorized by the Higher Education Act to help low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities succeed in higher education. In fiscal year 2020, there were 139 Educational Opportunity Centers in America serving more than 192,000 adult learners nationwide.

“I am thrilled to continue the good work of assisting area high school seniors and adults realize their dream of enrolling or re-enrolling in higher education,” said EOC Project Director Sharon Harris. “I along with my team will meet you where you are and assist you along your educational journey. It is very rewarding to be part of the solution of helping Southside Virginia increase its educational literacy which will assist in economic development.”

“As systemic inequality and financial hardship discourage students from succeeding in college, TRIO programs like EOC take on new importance because they continue to help guide un- and underemployed workers and returning high school and college students towards earning a degree,” said Maureen Hoyler, president of the non-profit Council for Opportunity in Education in Washington, D.C. COE is dedicated to furthering the expansion of college opportunities for low-income, first-generation students and students with disabilities nationwide.