Eastern to receive nearly $1.5 million grant to increase graduation rates, renovate Library and develop summer coding program for Native Americans


WILBURTON, OK (Aug. 31, 2020) – Eastern Oklahoma State College will receive a nearly $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education through the Native American-Serving Nontribal Institutions (NASNTI) program. The Title III grant will focus on increasing student retention, persistence and graduation rates, as well as student development of 21st-century skills.

Eastern President Dr. Janet Wansick said Eastern will receive $1,499,979 for the project over the course of five years beginning Oct. 1, 2020.

“Eastern’s service area lies in the heart of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and our institution is home to many students from other Native American tribes,” Wansick said. “This NASNTI grant is a wonderful opportunity to improve our existing programs, add culturally-responsive teaching strategies, and increase our students’ opportunities to succeed. We are honored to receive this significant grant and we greatly appreciate the continued support we receive through our partnerships with local tribal leaders.”

The NASNTI program is designed to assist institutions with the development of programs and services that help Native Americans and low-income individuals succeed in college. Funding is awarded to nontribal institutions with at least a 10 percent Native American enrollment. Last year, 29 percent of Eastern’s student population self-identified as American Indians.

Wansick said the grant will allow Eastern to revise 31 courses, infusing active learning and culturally-responsive instructional strategies to help faculty identify and include students’ cultural experiences in all aspects of teaching and learning.

“As our classrooms become more diverse, it is critically important that our faculty receive the professional development necessary to successfully teach and serve students from different cultural backgrounds,” Wansick said. “Our faculty members are dedicated to their students and I know they are excited to learn new strategies and methods to ensure the needs of diverse students are met.”

Eastern will also develop a “Native Americans Who Code” summer program to introduce and attract Native American students to computer science degree programs. The program will consist of four courses that will result in a computer coding certificate upon completion.

The final portion of the project will include the creation of a new learning commons and interactive classroom in the Library on the Wilburton campus. The new learning commons will house three private study and tutoring rooms for individual and small group work; two larger collaborative learning spaces that can be reconfigured for use by a large group or multiple small groups; a computer lab; a cultural engagement lab; and a proctored testing center.

This is the second Title III NASNTI award Eastern has received. In 2010, the College received a nearly $2 million grant to create five fully-online degree programs and increase access to online student support services.

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