Advocacy and Legitimacy

I recently particiated at the Mid-America Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel (MAEOPP) Conference hosted at The Abbey at Lake Geneva in Wisconsin. One of our keynote speakers was Dr. Arnold Mitchem, President of the Council on Opportunity in Education. One of the important issues raised with his keynote talk was the need for both "advocacy" and "legitimacy" for TRIO programs. Advocacy is necessary to remind the government of its values and why investing in TRIO programs is money well spent. So far, TRIO programs have served over 2,000,000 students who are low-income, first-generation, historically underrepresented, and students with physical disabilities.

During this time of economic chaos both within the U.S. government as well internationally, political leaders have to carefully consider where to invest an ever shrinking pool of public dollars. "Legitimacy" of TRIO programs, and their worthiness of continued if not increased funding, is dependent upon evidence that TRIO works. "Best practices" is a term used frequently by many in society and too often with differing meanings. A true best practice has evidence that the activity contributes to higher student outcomes. While we within the TRIO community know we are 'legitimate', those outside the field are too often uninformed. We must continually conduct research to document the excellent work being done with students. This raises the legitimacy of TRIO within their eyes and can influence their policy and budget decisions.

To that end, MAEOPP and the Jandris Center for Innovative Higher Education has created a Best Education Practices Center for program improvement and better service for students. The student population the Center is focused upon are lower-income, first-generation college, and historically-underrepresented. The Center also can be effective for supporting the legitimacy of TRIO locally and nationally. We look forward to TRIO programs within the MAEOPP area submitting their education practices they would like to contribute for the TRIO community. The Center staff is eager to support your nominations of education practices. Please click on the "contact us" tab on the top menu bar to obtain email and phone information directly to the Best Education Practices Center staff.