WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., and Congressmen Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Michael Guest, R-Miss., today announced a $3.75 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to support the Mississippi Public School Consortium for Educational Access. The Consortium, comprised of 12 school districts in rural, high-poverty communities, provides high school students with access to advanced science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses.
“This funding will give more Mississippi students access to the advanced coursework they need to achieve their full potential,” Wicker said. “All students deserve the same educational opportunities regardless of where they live.”
“Mississippi is now engaged in a strong collaborative effort to improve education in rural school districts. The Consortium is already making good progress, and through this multi-year EIR grant, students in rural districts will be given more access to college-level STEM coursework,” said Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate appropriations subcommittee that funds federal education programs. “The grant also represents an acknowledgment by the U.S. Department of Education that more resources need to be invested in rural areas.”
“The EIR grant will provide promising high school students in rural, low-income communities access to the advanced STEM courses that they require to achieve their full potential, but their schools otherwise could not offer,” Thompson said. “It will allow the Consortium, which serves some of the highest-poverty counties in America to build upon its initial success in using a blended format and leveraging various resources—faculty and tutors from renowned universities, in-class instructors, online resources, physical textbooks, video conference instruction, and residential programs at Mississippi universities—to provide exceptional, but underserved, students the opportunity to excel in a rigorous curriculum.”
“STEM education is a fundamental aspect of our modern society and it’s important to help students develop these skills as early as possible,” Guest said. “This funding will enable students to receive advanced curriculum in these fields and prepare them for future training and careers.”
Now in its third year of operation, the Consortium has served high-achieving students in 12 school districts: Aberdeen, Booneville, Coahoma AHS, Holmes County, Houston, Humphreys County, Lauderdale County, North Bolivar, Philadelphia, Pontotoc County, Scott County, and Quitman County. The University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, Jackson State University, and Millsaps College are among the universities involved in the project.
The grant was made by the Education Innovation and Research Program through the U.S. Department of Education. Members of the Mississippi congressional delegation actively supported the application with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who visited the Consortium's AP Physics 1 class at Holmes County Central High School last October.