For the second time in less than a year, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College has received a $2 million Department of Education Title III grant to help serve Native American students.
The grant will provide funding to develop three programs for online degrees: hospitality management, early childhood education and criminal justice. These programs were identified, based on projected growth statistics from the Oklahoma Employment Security Division and through discussions with local tribes.
"What we have proposed to do through the grant application is to bring these three degree programs 100 percent online, and that will be in addition to our on-campus options that have proven very successful," said NEO A&M President Dr. Jeff Hale.
Hale said the program is not limited to Native American students, but Native American students will be the focus.
NEO was selected because there is ample opportunity for students to earn bachelor's degrees online through area four -year schools in those fields.
A survey conducted in Fall 2010 found that 95 percent of NEO students have reliable access to the Internet and 77 percent have access ontheir cellular phone or other mobile device. Students majoring in the identified programs indicated a strong preference for online courses.
The grant will fund professional development of faculty and will allow the school to hire three full-time staff: distance education developer, online technology specialist and project analyst/assistant, as well as a program director.
Laptop computers and tablet devices will be utilized.
"Our intent is to be able to make new technology, whether it be the Ipads or the smart phones, more readily available to our student andfaculty populations," Hale said. "When you think about the possibilities created via a $2,000,000 grant, I think the College and local tribes can cover a great deal of important technology."
Hale received word of the grant from the office of Congressman Dan Boren.
"They informed us that NEO was going to be one of a select few colleges and universities in the United States to receive another $2 million Title III grant," Hale said.
Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant is the only other school in the state to receive the grant.
"I am pleased that NEO will receive this funding to improve its services to Native American students," Boren said in a statement. "A fifth of NEO's students are Native American, and the vast majority of these students are recipients of Pell Grants. This funding will help NEO increase its capacity to serve Native American and low-income students through a program named ‘Merging Tradition and Technology to Create Access to High-Demand Careers."
"This program tailors classes to fit the specific needs of these students, who are an integral part of Northeastern Oklahoma," Boren said.
No bricks or mortar will be used with the new project,unlike the previous Title III grant.
In October 2010, NEO A&M was one of only seven schools nationwide to receive a Title III grant, which was used to establish a Native American Success and Cultural Center on campus.
"I think it is wonderful that Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College and the tribes can partner together again," said John Froman, Chief of the Peoria Tribe.