Metro State awarded three-year grant to operate Equity Assistance Center
Posted: August 19, 2011
Metropolitan State College of Denver has been awarded a three-year grant, anticipated to reach over $2 million, to establish and operate an Equity Assistance Center (EAC) to help Mountain West public school districts deal with equity and civil rights issues.
The multimillion-dollar grant awarded earlier this month by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs provides an initial grant amount of $681,931 for the first year. On Aug. 4, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet’s office notified the College about the grant, which begins October 2011.
“Metro State educates more students of color in STEM fields than any other four-year Colorado higher education institution,” says President Stephen Jordan. “We are well positioned to effectively address the specific needs outlined in the grant because we have the tools and experience supporting both urban and rural communities with diversity programs and customized education curriculum.”
The new Metro State EAC will offer technical assistance and training to public school districts, at the request of school boards, in desegregation and equity issues regarding race, gender and national origin. The center will have a focus on two primary issues: (1) improving school safety, decreasing the incidence of racial and sexual harassment and bullying; and (2) promoting science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in order to reduce achievement disparities.
"As the demographics in Colorado—and in many other states in the Mountain West—are changing, many of the equity issues around race, gender and national origin are becoming even more pronounced. Meeting the evolving needs of our school populations requires specialized training," says Percy A. Morehouse Jr., executive director of equal opportunity/assistant to the president and principal investigator on the grant.
The grant establishes the new center at Metro State as one of only 10 Equity Assistance Centers around the country. The EAC program is funded by the DOE under Title IV of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, to promote equal educational opportunities and assistance to public school districts in the areas of race, gender and national origin. The Metro State EAC will serve DOE’s Region 8, which includes Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.
“We’ve already had a request from a district in Wyoming to do something to address bullying,” says Morehouse, who previously led the Mountain West Equity Assistance Center at Metro State from 1993-1999, and also ran a similar center at Weber State University in Utah in the 1980s. He has been a member of the American Association for Affirmative Action for 24 years in various roles supporting professional development and best practices.
Furthermore, because the school districts in Region 8 are primarily rural, Morehouse says, Metro State’s expertise in online and distance learning were particularly relevant.