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Submitted/Paula Naughtin

Ngondi Kamatuka, director of Educational Opportunity Programs, is pictured with his wife, Louisa, at the School of Education's "Party on the Patio" Sept. 15. Kamatuka and others in the School of Education have secured $31.5 million in federal funding.

Programs bring in millions to expand education to Kansans

$31.5 million — that's how much external funding KU's Educational Opportunity Programs have brought in from the federal government since 1983. And more importantly, through the programs, those dollars have spread out to serve thousands of people in northeast Kansas.

An additional $6.5 million was recently awarded to six programs: Upward Bound, GEAR UP, Upward Bound Math/Science, Veterans Upward Bound, Educational Opportunity Centers and McNair Scholars. The funding for some of the programs extends into 2013. This will make a total of $38 million received since 1983.

KU's Educational Opportunity Programs help disadvantaged students begin and complete post-secondary education, are federally funded and are part of the School of Education's Institute for Educational Research and Public Service.

Formed in 1983, Upward Bound was the first such program at KU. It was initially funded with $141,000.

"Fred Rodriguez and I wrote the first Upward Bound proposal," said Jerry Bailey, director of the institute. "We thought that it was uncommonly peculiar that a place like KU didn't have programs to encourage first-generation poor kids to go to college."

Ngondi Kamatuka, director of the Educational Opportunity Programs, came on board in 1987 and, Bailey said, was largely responsible for adding programs.

It might seem unremarkable that such successful programs have been re-funded, but during recent rounds of funding nation-wide, many long-term programs did not have their funds continued.

"Grant applications are read and scored by a panel of three readers and funding made based on those scores," said Julia O'Dell, director of Veterans Upward Bound. "This year's grant process was particularly competitive. Only 50 percent of the applications received for the program were funded for 2007-08. This year an applicant for a VUB grant had to receive 98 points out of a total of 100 on their grant application to receive funding."

Robert Rodriguez, director of the McNair Scholars program, commented not only on the funding process but also on the impact his program has on students.

"In the current political climate, federal funding for TRIO Programs such as the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program is far from secure. I am so pleased that we will be able to continue to serve current and future McNair scholars at the University of Kansas. Since the program's inception at KU in 1992, three KU McNair Scholars have earned doctorates, while several dozen have earned bachelor's, master's, law and medical degrees. Our $1,084,000 grant award ensures the continuance of the program over the next four years," he said.

Bailey lauded the staff who make the programs available.

"I continue to stand in awe of the great work that Ngondi and his colleagues do for kids and families after proposals are funded. And he and his team seem to be without peer in being able to conceptualize and write winning applications," Bailey said.

It is not only Kamatuka's colleagues that recognize his leadership. He was recently elected president of Mid-America Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel. The association is comprised of professionals from colleges, universities and agencies that host federally funded TRIO educational opportunity programs in 10 states in the Midwest.

"My election is a recognition by my colleagues of the role our TRIO programs play on the national level," said Kamatuka.

Kamatuka has been asked by the national Council for Opportunity in Education to chair the Committee on International Access, working closely with the European Access Network, Francophone Africa Access Network and NASFA: Association of International Educators.

EOP Funded Projects:

Program Duration Amount
1. Upward Bound Program2009-2013$1,507,332
2. GEAR UP2007-2008$863,200
3. Math & Science Center2008-2012$1,043,200
4. Veterans Upward Bound2009-2013$1,000,000
5. Educational Opportunity Center2007-2011$1,052,188
6. McNair Scholars Program2007-2011$1,085,568
TOTAL$6,543,488

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The University of Kansas prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, national origin, age, ancestry, disability, status as a veteran, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, gender identity, gender expression and genetic information in the University’s programs and activities. The following person has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies: Director of the Office of Institutional Opportunity and Access, IOA@ku.edu, 1246 W. Campus Road, Room 153A, Lawrence, KS, 66045, (785)864-6414, 711 TTY.