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Get2College, a program of the Woodward Hines Education Foundation (WHEF), is participating in a grant in partnership with Mississippi State University. The Greenville Voices grant is funded through the Corporation for National and Community Service. The project seeks to engage residents and other local stakeholders in learning about and researching college access services available in the Greenville community that support a college-going culture.

The project is led by MSU Assistant Professor Dr. Carol Cutler White, who serves as the principal investigator and lead researcher. Dr. White works with a small group of local high school and college students and parents, who serve as co-researchers on the project, using a research method known as PhotoVoice.

PhotoVoice uses photography to give a voice to the lived reality of students, who are trying to get information about going to college. The photos, submitted by students, will be shared through various local outlets, giving community members an opportunity to give their own input on where college information is available. The goal of the project is to identity available college access points in the community and possibly apply for further funding through AmeriCorps, Retired Senior Volunteer Corps (RSVP), and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) grant programs to support staff in those access points.

“Increasing access to college and educational attainment in Mississippi is certainly an issue that we are passionate about,” said WHEF President and CEO Jim McHale. “This is particularly important in the Mississippi Delta.”

The percentage of Mississippian’s, who have completed a degree or credential beyond high school sits at 41%, McHale explained. The national average is almost 48%. Currently, fewer than 27% of people in Washington County have an education beyond high school.

“At Woodward Hines, we define college as any kind of degree or credential beyond high school. That includes a two- or four-year degree, but also a welding or advanced manufacturing certificate,” McHale explained. “We know that an education that leads to meaningful employment is the best way to improve the lives of Mississippians and to move Mississippi forward. Our hope is that this project will be a catalyst in doing that.”