Coahoma Awarded Nearly $200k Distance Learning Grant

Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Rural Development awarded CCC nearly $200,000 to install a distance learning system to connect the college to high schools in Coahoma, Tallahatchie, and Quitman counties.

Coahoma Awarded Nearly $200k Distance Learning Grant

Press Release from Coahoma Community College Public Relations; (662) 621-4061 - Marriel Hardy

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Mon Dec 2, 2019

Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Rural Development awarded grants totaling nearly two million dollars to aid in distance learning initiatives throughout the State of Mississippi.

As part of the awards, Coahoma Community College (CCC) will receive a nearly $200,000 Rural Utilities Services (RUS) grant to install a distance learning system to connect the college to high schools in Coahoma, Tallahatchie, and Quitman counties.

In a press release released from the offices of U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), the politicians welcomed the award of $1,980,417 to support distance learning programs across the entire state. 

“These investments from the U.S. Department of Agriculture will help bring new learning technology to dozens of sites in Mississippi,” Wicker said.  “With this support, thousands of students and job seekers will be able to access educational opportunities that would otherwise be out of reach.”

“Expanding the technological infrastructure to allow distance learning will create so many opportunities for rural Mississippians.  Using universities, community colleges, schools, and USDA Extension Service offices allow greater outreach to the youth and adults alike,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.  “I applaud USDA Rural Development and the grant recipients for working together to make progress on these projects.”

Currently, distance-learning or eLearning allows CCC to continue meeting the goals of the institution by providing courses in a format that is flexible and convenient for learners.  In addition, eLearning gives the college the ability to serve the community better by providing much-needed access.

Coahoma Community College President Dr. Valmadge T. Towner is thrilled with the receipt of the grant and sees this as an opportunity for CCC to expand its efforts beyond the institution’s gates.

“We are always looking for external funding to increase our capacity to offer educational services. I’m so happy that Ms. Letha Richards led the effort for the institution to seek out the funds with USDA,” said Towner. “We have to ensure that our off-campus students have the same resources as if they were on our main campus. This RUS grant will enable us to provide resources to those students that are in our dual enrollment courses via our high schools.”

The proposed project will connect CCC to three rural end-user high schools via distance-learning, providing access to STEM courses and content, career-focused programs leading to college credit and workforce certifications, and will enable rural students to obtain college credits before leaving high school, helping to offset the cost of college tuition, room and board after high school graduation.

Letha Richards, director of Educational Outreach, hopes that the newly secured funds will act as a springboard, building upon current initiatives and launching a new age for CCC Educational Outreach.

“This RUS grant will allow us to offer dual enrollment opportunities in the high schools, during the daytime. The students will have access to our full-time faculty, as well as opportunities for professional development,” said Richards. “We are hoping for this grant to be twofold-to improve the learning activities that our students have on the college level.”

The distance learning equipment that will be used in the project will be standards-based videoconferencing endpoints combined with digital peripherals such as interactive touch boards. The project also will provide infrastructure to support the video project and provide bridging and video traffic management, etc. These technologies will allow end-user sites to connect to CCC to share classes and content.

“This grant will enable students not to have to come to campus. Students will have the same resources and educational experiences as students on our main campus,” Towner added.