Bringing an Educational Opportunity Center to Southern Utah

Published: March 30, 2021 | Author: Carson Brown and Lawrence Mbaki | Read Time: 2 minutes

Educational Opportunity Center grantTami Shugart, Educational Talent Search Director, is working to establish an Educational Opportunity Center in Southern Utah with a grant proposal. The Education Opportunity Center (EOC) would assist largely rural, remote, and underserved counties throughout the southern half of Utah.

This proposed program leverages strong regional partnerships, namely: SUU Graduate and Online Admissions, Southwest Technical College, Snow College, Dixie State University, Dixie Technical College, Five County Association of Governments, Six County Association of Governments, Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments, and Utah State University’s Rural Online Initiative. The purpose of the EOC is to provide Utah adults with comprehensive services to help them determine the best next step in their educational and career goals. As such, the program would provide academic advice, financial and economic literacy, guidance on entry into a GED program or secondary school, individualized career and academic counseling, and career exploration and planning. In many cases, it would allow residents to stay, learn, and work in their respective communities.

Originally, Director of Student Support Services Chip Sharpe was the principal investigator (PI) on this proposal, however, a transition became imminent. Due to COVID-19, Sharpe was unable to complete the process and Shugart, with her recent grant work, was able to step in.

“We certainly don’t encourage PIs to attempt a grant of this magnitude in such a short span of time,” said Jenn Stewart, SPARC’s pre-award research administrator. “This was just one of those situations where the stars aligned. Chip had done enough of the legwork establishing those partnerships, and Tami had just completed her own TRIO grant, so she was well-prepped to cross over into a similar submission to make it happen.”

“I have a love for TRIO programs and was beyond excited to find out that SUU wanted to write for an EOC program,” said Shugart. “I offered to take on the challenge of writing the proposal because I am a firm believer in the power and success of TRIO programs to help change lives.”

SPARC salutes Sharpe for establishing partnerships and laying the foundation; Shugart for attempting the impossible and putting the proposal to paper in such a short time span; and Stewart for her editing, formatting, and attention to detail to ensure all rules and regulations were met on this submission. Together with another quick review from Bill O’Neal, and the ever-present assistance from SPARC Director Sylvia Bradshaw, they made the magic happen.

This was definitely a team effort, which foreshadows what this grant will create if funded—a new team of partners working together to benefit adult learners across rural Utah.

Produced by the SPARC Office

SUU’s SPARC Office provides assistance to faculty, staff, and administrators seeking external funding for their projects and programs, from concept development and planning through implementation and management of funded projects.


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