OSU Open Campus bridges educational gaps

The OSU Open Campus program offers a “Recipe to Market” class.
The OSU Open Campus program offers a “Recipe to Market” class at Tillamook Bay Community College. (Photo by Lynn Ketchum.)

Program provides more ways for Oregonians to access education

People in Oregon’s rural communities don’t always have access to the educational opportunities that urbanites do. Add to this the fact that some need training that’s tailored to unique jobs specific to their locations. This means that they can have a hard time finding employment, and that businesses in their communities likewise can find it difficult to hire a qualified workforce.

That’s why in 2010, Oregon State University launched OSU Open Campus, a statewide community-based education partnership that provides local access to learning in order to address the unique educational needs of Oregon’s communities. The program is fast and flexible. It cuts bureaucratic red tape and aims to provide affordable education. Sometimes that will result in students who progress all the way to a bachelor’s degree.

In 2012, OSU Open Campus launched Juntos, a program that began at North Carolina State University in 2007. Juntos (meaning “together” in Spanish) works to empower families around education.

Through Juntos, OSU Open Campus unites with community partners to provide culturally relevant programming for students in grades eight through 12 and their parents. Juntos is designed to provide families with knowledge, skills, and resources to prevent youth from dropping out of high school, and to encourage families to work together to gain access to college.

So far, the participating schools boast 100 percent high school graduation rates. With help from the Ford Family Foundation, OSU Open Campus has been able to expand to schools in central and coastal Oregon.

OSU Open Campus builds on the foundation of the OSU Extension Service, which brings the educational resources of the university to communities. OSU Open Campus has a growing capacity for distance education, face-to-face courses, professional certifications, workforce enhancement opportunities and business development. Partners include Oregon’s community colleges, regional economic development groups, the K-12 education systems, businesses and local government.

In 2014, the program was recognized as one of four national winners of the Outreach Scholarship W.K. Kellogg Foundation Engagement Award.

Source: Jeff Sherman and Ana Gomez, OSU Open Campus

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