Texas Rural College Promise Models Demonstrate Early Impact

Texas Rural College Promise Models Demonstrate Early Impact

South, East, and West Texas regions share plans to join the Regional Talent Network

DALLAS, TX – Feb 15, 2023 – First year results from the Texas Rural College Promise were released today, showing significant progress on undergraduate enrollment rates across rural North and East Texas.

Initiated last year with grant funding from Greater Texas Foundation (GTF), the pioneering program aims to produce stronger and more equitable college and workforce outcomes for rural Texas students and communities. The program involves three colleges – Grayson College, North Central Texas College (NCTC) and Tyler Junior College – working in partnership with local school districts and other regional institutions to develop Regional Talent Networks for North and East Texas. In addition to GTF, other state and national partners supporting the program include Rural Community College Alliance (RCCA), Economic Mobility Systems (EMS), College Promise and Phi Theta Kappa

At NCTC, following the launch of the Red River Promise program in 2021, fall undergraduate enrollment increased 67% (year over year growth).  In addition, of the total number of seniors graduating from local high schools, 52% enrolled in higher ed in the summer and fall of 2022, representing a double digit increase from last year.

At Grayson College, following the launch of the Texoma Promise program in 2021, fall undergraduate enrollment increased 32% (year over year growth).  58% of matriculating seniors enrolled in higher ed across the region for the summer and fall semester representing a double digit increase from last year.  Additionally, Grayson College noted significant diversification in undergraduate enrollment, reporting a 16% increase in Hispanic students, 17% increase in Black students and 23% increase in Asian students.  The college also noted a 5% increase in male students to address college enrollment disparities by gender.

At Tyler Junior College, where the TJC Promise is in its fifth year and monitors student eligibility from the 9th – 12th grades, the college reported a 37% rate of institutional enrollment at TJC for the region’s 2022 senior cohort.  TJC continues to be a state leader in the % of seniors enrolling from feeder high schools, and the region also exceeds the state averages on overall post-secondary enrollment, due in part to the sustained focus of the college’s program.

“These initial results are very encouraging as we work towards our goal of helping more of our high school-graduating seniors enroll and complete postsecondary degrees and credentials, aligned to in-demand, living wage jobs.  “As a catalyst for regional economic development, these talent building programs give us tremendous confidence in the future for our rural communities.”
Emily Klement, Rural Community College Alliance.

Model Developed for Program Expansion and Sustainability

In addition to supporting local students and communities, the program also included the development of a repeatable, affordable and scalable model for rural communities across Texas as a roadmap for rural America.  Over the past six months, three more colleges – Howard College, Navarro College and South Texas Colleges — serving rural West, Central and South Texas, have participated in a Regional Talent Planning Course with coaching and support developed by EMS through a grant from the Greater Texas Foundation.

The EMS Regional Talent Framework, based on research, best practices and community engagement, illustrates a clear approach to help communities align on the right “non-negotiables” for effective regional talent strategies and outline an actionable plan.  

“The rural approach helps community college leaders develop their assets and build capacity to run and manage a stronger regional talent strategy. The goal is to help all students succeed, aligned to good regional jobs, using proven strategies and game-changing technologies.”
Eric Ban, Executive Director of EMS

“To remain competitive in a fast-changing world, Texas needs intentional regional talent strategies, such as those developed under this program,” said Sue McMillin, President and CEO, Greater Texas Foundation.  “We are proud to be the inaugural funding partner for this important initiative, providing the opportunity and tools for young people in rural communities to thrive, and we look forward to working with more institutional and philanthropic partners to build on this great start.”


About the Program

The Rural College Promise Program is a Regional Talent Strategy for rural Texas.  Funded by a three-year, $3 million grant from GTF, the initial focus of the program is on three regions in rural North and East Texas.  Technical support for the regions includes access to leading edge technologies and solutions designed by EMS on equity platforms like Salesforce and GreenLight Credentials, enabling schools to case manage each student with real time data, and empowering students with digital tools that support their transition from high school to college and beyond.

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