Wyden, Merkley: Two Oregon Colleges Receive $2.44 Million to Recruit and Retain Rural Students

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley this week announced that Umpqua Community College and Eastern Oregon University will receive a combined $2.44 million to help recruit and retain students from rural Oregon, as well as provide them with career opportunities in high-skill, high-wage and in-demand industry sectors in the region. 

“Students exposed to quality college and career preparation graduate from high school at higher rates and are more prepared to get good-paying jobs in the field of their choice,” Wyden said. “I have seen first-hand what college prep and career and technical education programs can do here in the most rural and remote parts of Oregon, so I am gratified to see funding go to expand access to programs at Eastern Oregon and Umpqua that prepare rural students to tackle an increasingly competitive job market.”

“Higher education can connect our students with the resources, opportunities, and tools to thrive and build stronger communities and economies around Oregon,” said Senator Merkley. “This Rural Postsecondary and Economic Development Program funding to Umpqua Community College and Eastern Oregon University will provide crucial support for our rural students by developing new pathways to education that can open the door to high-paying and in-demand careers. I look forward to seeing how the funding will better support students in Oregon’s rural communities and help break down barriers to higher education.” 

Umpqua Community College will receive $1.2 million for its Work-based Integration into Rural Education (WIRE) program, to implement a rural student early-outreach recruitment program, an accelerated learning expansion, as well as augmented career services for both high school and college students, regional work-based learning opportunities, and wraparound services for more than 900 students over three years.

Eastern Oregon University will receive $1.2 million for its Achieving Careers for Rural Oregon Student Success (ACROSS) program to start postsecondary outreach program as early as 5th grade, provide dual credit courses to career pathways in person and online, and supply summer learning and internships to high school and college students.

“EOU’s work as Oregon’s Rural University will be greatly enhanced through this grant. Our strategic goal is to intensify rural student recruitment and outreach, and providing access and support for educational and career pathways will help build and sustain our communities. We are grateful for the support of Oregon’s U.S. Senators,” said Eastern Oregon University President Tom Insko.

“As a relentless collaborator with all K-12 partners in Douglas County, Umpqua Community College will amplify this work with financial and program support. The grant pays for a UCC specialist to support the outlying communities of Days Creek, Elkton, Glendale, North Douglas, Riddle, Winston and Yoncalla. Supports will include career services, clear pathways to high wage and high demand workforce jobs, internship opportunities with industry partners, and wrap-around services such as advising, tutoring, mental health needs,” said Umpqua Community College President Rachel Pokrandt.