ALBANY, Ga. – Albany State University (ASU) has received $3 million to establish the Center for Educational Opportunity (CEO), a new academic initiative to research ways families may obtain greater access to high-quality K-12 education. The five-year grant was awarded by the Thurgood Marshall College Fund’s Center for Advancing Opportunity (CAO), an initiative supported by grants from the Charles Koch Foundation and Koch Industries.
“We were excited to announce Albany State University as our third HBCU partner at the State of Opportunity in America Summit held in Washington, D.C.,” said Gerard Robinson, executive director, Center for Advancing Opportunity. “I am proud to have ASU join the CAO family of very impressive scholars working to find solutions to barriers to educational success in fragile communities.”
The ASU CEO will focus on four pillars: educational opportunity, educational models, educational innovations, and educational access. The aim is to find ways, via dialogue and scholarship, to discover and uncover educational models, accessibility practices, innovations, and opportunities that can be operationalized, sustained, and shared in communities with the greatest need.
“To remove barriers to a quality education, you first need to understand them,” said Charles Koch Foundation Director of University Relations John Hardin, PhD. “We’re proud to support the TMCF’s Center for Advancing Opportunity and the work they’re doing to support schools like ASU investigating these critical issues.”
Dr. Kathaleena Edward Monds, an ASU professor, is the founding director of the Center and said research findings will help inform the university and community on ways to remove barriers to opportunity for families living in fragile communities. Dr. Monds has worked with K-12 educators in the region since 2007 by hosting and teaching economic education workshops in her role as co-director of the Center for Economic Education. In 2013 she was selected by the Georgia Department of Education to assist with gathering open-source economics curriculum for use by families, and in 2015 was invited to speak to the U.S. Department of Education on the importance of international education initiatives at HBCUs.
According to Monds, the CEO will strengthen the momentum that ASU has in working with teachers, students, and families.
“The launch of the Center for Educational Opportunity will leverage existing university efforts that help identify the best alternatives in education, and allow faculty and students a place in which they can explore varying ideas, and dig deep into research on cognitive and non-cognitive measures, brain drain, workforce preparation, teacher preparation, policy research, and K-12 curriculum programs that can be scaled – beyond the traditional public school classroom,” Monds said.
This center is not only a benefit for ASU, but it is also a benefit for the Southwest Georgia region in that it will provide external and internal researchers a chance to operationalize their findings.
“We are honored to be a recipient of this grant award,” said ASU Interim President Marion Fedrick. “One of our primary goals at ASU is to collaborate with business and community partners to provide opportunities for our students to grow personally and have a positive impact on our region. Here in southwest Georgia, educational attainment is our top priority and it begins in K-12. We are excited to be a part of an initiative that will directly impact that endeavor.”
The launch of the CEO supports ASU’s Guiding Principle – Elevate Historically Underserved Populations – and in doing so, the outcomes from the research findings will allow ASU to address the challenges encountered by families living in fragile communities and make recommendations that would better prepare K-12 students for post-secondary education and beyond.