Rural College Promise: Spotlight in Greater Texas Foundation Annual Report

EMS Executive Director Dr. Eric Ban shares reflections on the launch of the Texas Talent Region model for Rural Texas.

The Rural College Promise (part of the Texas Talent Regions) — an EMS supported regional talent development program in collaboration with the Rural Community College Alliance, three rural community colleges in North Texas and other partners – has been spotlighted by its funding sponsor, Greater Texas Foundation, as one of the foundation’s three featured programs in its 2021 Annual Report.

Funded by a three-year grant from GTF, the Rural College Promise illustrates the implementation of the Texas Talent Region model through a collaboration of EMS, the Rural Community College Alliance (RCCA), rural North Central Texas College (NCTC), Grayson College, Tyler Junior College and other support organizations.

The program’s goals are two-fold: To produce stronger and more equitable college and workforce outcomes for rural Texas students, and to produce a model that other resource-constrained rural communities across Texas and potentially, the nation can follow.



Interviewed by the GTF staff for the feature, EMS Executive Director Dr. Eric Ban shared four reflections from his work launching the program over the past year: 

1. This is a Texas talent strategy  

One of the distinctions of the Promise program is that it is a Texas talent strategy fueled by community engagement. It takes a comprehensive approach, involving school districts, community agencies and high school students to build a culture of alignment with local workforce needs.


2. We are getting smarter with each implementation 

The Commit Partnership is now in its fifth year of supporting Promise programs across the state. Advances and improvements have been driven by learning shared between regions of the state.


3. Relationships between community colleges and school districts are an important place to start building a college-going culture  

Because there are fewer resources in the rural context, you must be smart about how to use those resources… The relationships that community college presidents have with superintendents is a really important place to start.


4. Success depends on strong leadership

Effective collaborations require strong and viable leadership. From the outset… leaders have made it clear that they are invested in this program’s success and understand their roles in helping the community thrive.

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