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Principal Investigators: Dr. Carol Cutler White, Mississippi State University, Department of Educational Leadership

Community Partner: Jim McHale, Woodward Hines Educational Foundation

Title: Voices of Hidden Figures in the Quest to Increase Postsecondary Access and Success through Civic Engagement

The residents of Greenville, MS in the Mississippi Delta trail behind both state and national educational attainment levels. American Community Survey data indicates just 20 percent of Greenville’s population hold a bachelor's degree or higher compared with 22 percent across the state and 30 percent nationally. For students who aspire to attain a postsecondary education, the process of choosing a college, applying to college, and applying for financial aid (college access services) is a complex ecosystem of school, family, and community expectations and relations. This process is especially difficult for students in low educational attainment communities such as Greenville.

Researchers at Mississippi State University and Woodward Hines Educational Foundation seek to:

  1. Give voice to community members in low social capital groups in conceptualizing a community-engaged college access model
  2. Document socio-networked learning across and between Greenville co-researchers and community stakeholders in creating a shared vision and action plan
  3. Establish or expand civic infrastructure through a loosely organized network of national and community volunteers providing college access and success services in the community
  4. Document a replicable model of engaging hidden figures and social innovation networks in the work of college access and success

This project’s most immediate outcome will inform philanthropic organizations and state and federal policy makers investing in college access on how to create a community-engaged college access model of service delivery. In the long-term, it’s expected that Greenville will experience increased civic engagement and improved civic health through a more highly educated citizenry.

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