Talented Undergraduate Minority Fellowship Research Program
The Talented Undergraduate Minority Fellowship Research Program (TUMFP) was funded by a discretionary, competitive, federal, two-year grant from the US Department of Education. Ernest W. Brewer wrote and received funding for three consecutive TUMFP grants. In addition, he received financial support from Richard Wisniewski, former dean of the College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences, to operate the project. The project provided fellowships to 179 talented undergraduate students who demonstrated financial need and were from minority groups traditionally underrepresented in graduate education. The project recruited students from across the southeastern United States and from more than 50 colleges and universities. Acceptance into the program was based on GPA, recommendations, and other information provided on participant application forms.
A research study conducted and published in The Opportunity Journal by Brewer and Landers, (2004), found that the project was highly effective. The majority of participants continued in higher education and received graduate degrees. A significant number of participants obtained their doctorate degrees after the study was completed.
Throughout its history, projects within the center have established collaborative partnerships to support and expand project services. One significant collaboration was between the Math and Science Regional Center (currently the Math and Science Center) and the Tennessee Geographic Alliance (TGA). In 2002, Director Nancy Headlee Gregg and TGA Coordinator Kurt Butefish worked together to submit a successful proposal to the National Geographic Society Education Foundation. Summer MSRC participants conducted actual field research with UT graduate students and scientific researchers from across the nation as part of Discover Life in America and its All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory initiative to document existing and new species living within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Students entered data into geographic information system databases and produced distribution maps of the flora and fauna they had inventoried. Student activities were recorded by a photojournalist from National Geographic and included in the magazine’s September 2002 issue.
High School Equivalency Program (HEP)
Being an expert in the field of grant writing and helping disadvantaged individuals, Brewer wrote a grant proposal in response to a discretionary request for proposal for the High School Equivalency Program (HEP) in 1985. The project was funded through grants from the US Department of Education’s Office of Migrant Education.
The purpose of the project was to assist migratory and seasonal farm workers who were 16 years of age or older to obtain an equivalent high school diploma and subsequently to gain employment, begin training, or enter postsecondary education. The major support services offered through HEP were counseling, job placement, health care, financial aid stipends, housing for residential students along with cultural and academic experiences.
Educational Talent Search
In 1980, Brewer wrote the first of many federal service-oriented grants. One such grant was the Educational Talent Search (ETS) program. This federally funded TRiO program in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education was funded for 25 years and served more than 25,000 participants in 13 middle and high schools in Knox County.
The goal of the program was to identify and assist first-generation and low-income students in grades 6–12 in completing high school and attending the college or university of their choice. Students selected to be participants in the program benefited from a number of services designed to support student achievement and to access postsecondary opportunities successfully after high school.
Services free to eligible students included tutorials for students with difficulty in particular classes, career and academic advising, exposure to various cultural events, financial aid and scholarship advising, SAT and ACT preparation, college tours to introduce students to various institutions, and guidance to select the appropriate institution for each student’s chosen career path.
In a 1995 research study, Brewer and Jama McMahan Landers conducted a longitudinal study of the ETS project that was published in the Journal of Career Development. They compared the enrollment rates of 758 ETS participants over a 10-year span with a group of participants who were eligible to participate in the program but chose not to receive services. Analysis revealed that ETS participants were significantly more likely to enroll in postsecondary education than were members of the control group.
Levi Strauss Foundation’s Knoxville Strategic Partnership
In 2003, the Educational Opportunity Center was selected by the Levi Strauss Foundation to be a part of a collaborative effort among 15 nonprofit service providers in Knox and surrounding counties. The primary goal of the partnership was to prevent gaps in the continuum of services from childcare, pay equity, social security, and nontraditional jobs.
Project First Generation
Funded in 1994, Project First Generation was designed to target low-income mothers whose parents did not graduate from college. Partnerships with businesses and industries created a distinctive experience for students that provided education, employment, and continuous mentoring with experienced managers who were selected by the employers.
College Assistance Migrant Program
The US Department of Education solicited applications for four College Assistance Migrant Programs (CAMP). In the early 1980s, Brewer wrote a grant proposal to serve Region IV. His project was funded, and he immediately hired Frank Nagy from the University of South Florida, who had expertise in managing programs similar to CAMP. After serving as the principal investigator for a few years, Brewer turned the program over to another professor in the College of Education (before the college merged with the College of Human Ecology and became CEHHS). Later, when the funding cycle ended, the grant competition became more competitive, and the project was not funded in subsequent years.
Brewer successfully received funding to assist students who were either engaged in migrant and other seasonal farm work themselves or whose immediate family was engaged in this type of work. These students were also enrolled or admitted on a full-time basis in their first academic year at UT. Under the CAMP grant, the project provided academic, personal, and financial support to 50 qualified students. Data showed that eligible students receiving CAMP services had a 91 percent retention rate after completing the first year of college, compared to a 26 percent retention rate for students not receiving CAMP services.