COVID-19 Response and Reopening

$185K Grant Reinforces COCC Equity Efforts

Central Oregon Community College’s (COCC) office of diversity and inclusion was recently awarded a $184,902 grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust’s equitable education portfolio that will support, expand and implement a range of equity and diversity programs at the college.

The majority of the award will be applied to COCC’s college preparatory programs designed for underserved district high schoolers, aimed at specific operational costs and the funding of a Native American program staff member’s salary, while also helping underwrite a similar program for Black high school students that’s currently in development. Funds will also enhance equity-centered professional development at COCC, bringing more training offerings to faculty and staff.

“This incredible aid will directly benefit the futures of many youth in our underserved communities, offering them educational direction and access to technology and resources that they wouldn’t otherwise have,” said Christy Walker, the college’s director of diversity and inclusion. More than 80 student participants of the Latinx, Native American and Afrocentric college preparatory programs, Walker added, will receive a complementary laptop to empower their educations thanks to this and other funding.

The college preparatory programs feature two components: an embedded high school classroom during the school year and an on-campus, weeklong symposium in the summer. Free to participants, these college-credit-earning programs celebrate culture and foster leadership while spotlighting college offerings through academic encouragement.

The programs are currently embedded in Redmond High School, Ridgeview High School, the Redmond Proficiency Academy, Culver High School, Crook County High School, Madras High School, Bridges Career and Technical High School in Madras, the Roots Alternative Education Program at Warm Springs, Bend High School, Mountain View High School and Summit High School. While geared toward specific cultural identity groups, the programs are open to all students.

Measuring high school graduation and college enrollment rates is important to assessing the programs, and data from recent years shows that 85% of participants in these programs are graduating high school, while 75% are enrolling at COCC or another college; Oregon’s 2020 four-year high school graduation rate was 82.6%.

“With this key investment from Meyer Memorial Trust, we are building upon our dedication to equity and diversity at COCC and throughout the district,” said Dr. Laurie Chesley, president of COCC. “The funding will make a lasting impact on so many levels, from supporting minority students as they broaden their educations, to growing our equity-based educational outreach efforts, to reinforcing the college’s commitment to serving all.”

Image: COCC's Ganas summer program for Latinx high schoolers, coordinated by the office of diversity and inclusion, provides hands-on science labs and other empowering learning opportunities. Photo taken prior to COVID-19.