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Oregon spending $1.6 million for eastern college equity program


Oregon spending $1.6 million for eastern college equity program

Jul 05, 2022 | 8:30 am ET
By Julia Shumway
Oregon spending $1.6 million for eastern college equity program
Oregon community colleges will largely keep tuition flat or raise it by just a few dollars per credit hour in the fall of 2022. (The Enterprise/File)

The state will spend more than $1 million to help more students of color and adult learners graduate from colleges in eastern Oregon.

Gov. Kate Brown announced last week that the state will spend $1.6 million to launch an initiative called “Moon Shot for Equity” at Eastern Oregon University, Treasure Valley Community College and Blue Mountain Community College. The money comes from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, a pot of federal Covid relief money that she controls.

It’s part of a national program from a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm, EAB, that aims to close gaps in degree attainment. The program includes simplifying college registration, setting up clear course maps to reduce the amount of time and money spent seeking a degree and making it easier to transfer credits. 

“Every student in Oregon, no matter who they are or where they come from, deserves equitable access to higher education,” Brown said in a statement. “We must invest and innovate to break down the barriers that have kept too many Oregonians from succeeding in higher education.” 

In Oregon, more than half of Asian-American adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and nearly two-thirds have at least an associate’s degree, according to the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission. More than half the state’s population of white adults and nearly half the state’s Black adults have at least an associate’s degree.

But only 15% of Hispanic adults have a bachelor’s degree, while another 15% have completed an associate’s degree or certificate. Native American and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders have similarly low levels of post-high-school education, with 35% of Native Americans and 40% of Pacific Islanders achieving an associate’s degree or higher. 

Eastern Oregon University has almost 2,900 students who take classes in person in La Grande or through online degree programs. Close to 70% of its students are white, with Latino students making up the next largest group.

Treasure Valley Community College in Ontario and Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton both offer associate’s degrees and transfer programs to a mix of full-time and part-time students. Both serve majority-white populations.