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Auburn expands K-12 educational opportunities throughout Black Belt with Workforce Innovation and Opportunity grant

Published: May 17, 2022
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Auburn University’s Center of Education Outreach and Engagement, or CEOE, is expanding educational opportunities to K-12 schools in the Black Belt regions of the state of Alabama with the use of a $214,000 Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act grant.  

The three-year renewable grant funded by the Alabama Department of Commerce is one year into implementation. It is designed to provide Alabama workforce investment activities by creating opportunities for underserved students to attain nationally recognized postsecondary credentials.  

“A major goal of this program and others sponsored by CEOE is to develop deep connections with students to enhance access to an Auburn University education, successful employment and to enhance economic impact on Alabama’s communities,” former CEOE Director Stacey Nickson said. 

Through the grant, Auburn’s CEOE has partnered with the Macon and Bullock County Career Technical Education Centers to expand educational opportunities.  

The grant allowed for the creation of the Auburn University Success Plus Program, or AUSPP, which provides Auburn faculty and consultants to teach eight different areas of college and career readiness preparation at both the Bullock and Macon County Career Technical Education sites. 

“The WIOA grant has been and continues to be a ‘human touch’ experience,” Nickson said. “We have involved students, parents, teachers, administrators, government officials, community mentors from the Black Belt Community Foundation and Auburn University faculty, staff and students.”  

Since AUSPP was implemented, it has given 35 students enrolled in medical career technical programs a combined total of 350 hours of direct learning experiences related to healthcare, as well as networking opportunities with five Auburn-related medical programs. 

Students have been able to visit the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, or VCOM, located on Auburn’s campus, the Harrison College of Pharmacy, College of Nursing, College of Veterinary Medicine and the Auburn University Medical Clinic. These visits allowed students to engage with and learn from professionals in the medical field, as well as gain exposure to the state-of-the-art educational equipment available to Auburn students in the realm of medical sciences.  

Outside of health care, AUSPP also provided students with chances to learn entrepreneurship skills. In partnership with Auburn’s Harbert College of Business, AUSPP students were able to engage in a year-long training program focusing on entrepreneurship in the healthcare sector lead by Auburn management professor LaKami Baker, as well as tour the college for a campus career visit. 

To learn more about Auburn’s CEOE or the WIOA grant, click here.   

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.

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