State Employees’ Credit Union (SECU) members via the SECU Foundation are pleased to announce that a $2.28 million grant has been provided to East Carolina University (ECU) Foundation in support of its rural teacher education scholarship program – Partnership East. A joint project with ECU, North Carolina community colleges and public school systems, the recently renamed SECU Partnership East is a proven, successful program focused on recruiting teacher assistants and public school employees in rural northeastern North Carolina to become certified teachers. Under the direction of ECU’s College of Education, selected students will have access to high-quality degree programs close to home so that they might remain in their communities to teach after graduation. Students will finish the program with a four-year degree from ECU by completing the first two years at a participating community college, then transferring to ECU where classes can be taken online. Scholarship funding assists Partnership East students in their senior year, when teaching internship requirements keep them from working their regular jobs. SECU Foundation’s Board of Directors approved the grant with an annual commitment of $456,000 for five years, beginning August 2013.
“We are indebted to State Employees’ Credit Union members for their support of our Partnership East Pipeline Teacher Preparation Program,” states Dr. Linda Patriarca, Dean of ECU’s College of Education. “This gift helps us fulfill our mission and commitment to prepare high quality teachers for the region, especially for those rural communities.”
Partnership East complements other SECU Foundation education-based initiatives such as SECU’s high school and community college scholarships, teacher housing projects, and the SECU Continuing Education Scholarship. The SECU Partnership East scholarship is designed to increase program recruitment rates and help meet the urgent need to place qualified teachers in North Carolina’s schools, particularly in underserved regions. SECU Foundation funding will work to help stabilize the impact of dwindling state and federal support that has negatively affected student enrollment in the program. According to Lisa Chapman, Vice President for Academic and University Programs at UNC General Administration, North Carolina will need 14,000 new teachers in 2015.
Over 500 students have already graduated from the Partnership East program, with 79% of the graduates presently teaching in North Carolina, and 94% of those in eastern North Carolina. ECU statistics indicate more than 225 students are currently enrolled through the scholarship program.
Jim Barber, SECU Foundation Board Chair comments, “Working with SECU member groups – public schools, community colleges and university staff, SECU Partnership East provides another opportunity for SECU members to make a significant impact on the educational, financial and employment needs of North Carolina teachers and school systems. The program will also give North Carolina program graduates the chance to pay it forward, exemplifying the credit union philosophy of ‘People Helping People’ by teaching in the communities in which they live.”