Portland Community college Rock Creek Dean of Student Development Narce Rodriguez (left) and New Directions Coordinator Alicia Gonzalez know how beneficial a high school equivalency program can be for migrant families.
Benefits include free classes, other support
Portland Community College will start a High School Equivalency Program on its Rock Creek Campus in northwest Portland for migrant and seasonal farm workers and members of their immediate family.
Supported by a five year, $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Migrant Education, the program will help people obtain a GED, gain employment, enter post secondary education or training or join the military.
One hundred students per year will be served by this grant. PCC is hiring staff for the program and the goal will be to start taking in students for winter term. The focus will be on Washington County, but students could come from Yamhill County, Clackamas and Hood River.
“There is a need for this program in our area and I have been contacted by many community agencies in Washington County that are absolutely thrilled that they will be able to refer students to this program,” said Karen Sanders, a PCC division dean.
It’s another big win for PCC in federal grant funding. In the last 6 months PCC has earned more than $13.5 million in money to help foster access and bolster education programs like this one.
According to the PCC Grants Office the high school equivalency program is needed because Oregon has the fifth-largest migrant and seasonal farm worker population in the country and 25 percent live in the Northwestern part of the state. Latino student enrollment has increased by 20 percent compared to last year at PCC.
“The nice thing about HEP is that there is no upper age limit,” Sanders added. “So if there are individuals or adults out there who never finished high school and would like to do so, they can enroll in this program and continue their education.”
Benefits to students include free GED classes and testing fees, books, supplies, bus passes and cafeteria meals, plus reduced child care. Individualized tutoring, GED classes in Spanish, advising and required electives are also part of the program.
Potential students will go through a rigorous application process, which includes verification of migrant status, orientation, testing and personal interviews. Program participants will take 12 credit hours of GED classes as well as an elective – often English as a Second Language or College Survival.
Graduates of the HEP program receive free PCC tuition, up to 12 credits, that must be used within a year.
Narce Rodriguez, Rock Creek Campus Dean of Student Development, had two brothers who went through the program where it exists in other parts of the state. She said it really helped them because of an environment of inclusion.
“We have a waiting list for people from this community who want their GED and it’s a matter opportunity for them to have access to education via PCC,” Rodriguez said. “Plus, this helps meets the goal of our board of directors to foster partnerships with community to meet access to all and foster diversity within the campus and college as a whole.”
For program information, call 503-614-7085.