Adult Educational Opportunity Center Serves 1,550 Students

Genesee Community College's Adult Educational Opportunity Center (AEOC) helped 1,550 Western New York residents - most of them economically disadvantaged - pursue higher education and new careers last year, AEOC Director Victoria Campbell reported to the Board of Trustees this evening.

The AEOC program is funded by the U. S. Department of Education. It is one of the U. S. Department of Education's Title IV "TRIO" programs designed to serve economically and educationally disadvantaged individuals. Most educational opportunity centers are located in urban areas; Genesee's program is one of only a handful of such programs in the nation serving a rural population.

Through the Adult Educational Opportunity Center, outreach specialists provide individual and group counseling, financial aid seminars, career guidance, and technical assistance to adults seeking to improve their educational or career status, explained Ms. Campbell. The program serves residents of the Genesee-Livingston-Orleans-Wyoming region, as well as neighboring communities.

The program's success is well documented, according to Ms. Campbell:

• In addition to the 1,550 individuals served during the 2001-2002 year, another 17,515 individuals have been served since the program began in 1985.

• Of the 1,550 individuals served last year, 1,272 were low-income individuals whose parents had not completed four years of college.

• Nine hundred eight students were enrolled or accepted in college or a vocational school. Five hundred seventy-six of these individuals were accepted at Genesee.

• Last year, the program helped 282 individuals without high school diplomas pursue General Equivalency Degrees.

• Much of the success of the program is due to the presence of outreach specialists in thirty-one local communities, according to Ms. Campbell. "Our six outreach workers, some of whom are former AEOC participants themselves, are based in Department of Labor offices throughout the region," she said. "They see many of their clients when they come in to file for unemployment claims or to talk about their difficulties with the job market."

Outreach workers don't confine themselves to Labor offices, however. "You'll find the outreach specialists in coffee shops, laundromats, at WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) offices, or just sitting in the kitchens of potential clients," Ms. Campbell said. "Our outreach workers will go wherever there are people in need of their help."

Individuals wishing to talk with an AEOC outreach specialist may contact the office toll free at 1-888-394-2362.