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November 4, 2011

ULM program helps migrant farm workers with $2.1 million grant

The University of Louisiana at Monroe's High School Equivalency Program has received a landmark federal grant, making it the first and only such grant ever awarded in Louisiana.

The $2.1 million grant was originally awarded in September 2010 to the ULM Incumbent Workers Training Program as a resource for migrant farm workers and their families and has become a gateway toward education, a more secure future and better jobs.

Georgia Sanderson, director of the ULM IWTP and HEP was the principal investigator for the grant that was awarded by the U.S. Department of Education.

"The program is geared toward workers and their families who move from place to place following agricultural work," said Sanderson. "The program serves any worker, or family member residing with that worker, that has worked 75 days out of the last two years in migrant work."

Because this program is the first of its kind in Louisiana, Sanderson partnered with the NELA Adult and Family Literacy Consortium to reach this migrant population and meet the goals set forth in the grant.

"We have several classes," Sanderson continued. "Some are bilingual, others not; the most wonderful thing about visiting these classrooms is that they are always at or near capacity and the participants are truly eager to learn."

According to Sanderson, the most recent figures show that between January 2011 and June 2011, 12 out of the 52 students who started the program have already received their GEDs.

"The more I meet with the students, the more I see that they are grateful for the opportunity to learn, and to use this education as a stepping stone to something greater," said Sanderson.

Sanderson and her staff have plans to embark on another grant application opportunity, in order to expand on what they have already done.

"The College Assisted Migrant Program will continue to help these students achieve a level of education they could not have otherwise received," continued Sanderson.

"Hopefully with this grant, many of the HEP students will transition to ULM with their tuition and books paid for through CAMP. These programs are what higher education is all about, opening doors for people to experience personal growth."

For more information about HEP or the IWTP, contact Sanderson at or 318-342-3035.

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