TRIO Celebrates 50th Anniversary

TRIO Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Fifty years ago, TRIO Educational Opportunity Centers (TRIO EOCs) were created by Congress to address the barriers to higher education, primarily for first-generation college students with financial need.

TRIO Educational Opportunity Center was established at Minneapolis College in 1988 and fills the need for financial, admissions and career advising that is generally available to high school students, yet previously inaccessible to adults.

The Twin Cities EOC has served nearly 100,000 participants and has become a vital pipeline to career and post-secondary educational opportunity, serving traditional and non-traditional students, displaced workers, and veterans within the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area.


To celebrate its 50th Anniversary, TRIO EOC will host a reception Thursday, Dec. 1, 2–4 p.m. at the Minneapolis College Welcome Center (T.2800) at 1501 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis. Everyone is invited for free refreshments and a short presentation. Parking in the ramp is free during event hours.

TRIO EOC director Nardos Senbeta has been with the program in the Twin Cities for 28 years, including the past two years as a director. She has overseen its successful expansion and tremendous success among program participants. “The event is partly to thank our Minneapolis College administrators who have been so supportive of the EOC, especially Vice President of Student Affairs Patrick Troup, Dean of Students Becky Nordin, and of course President Dr. Sharon Pierce,” she said.

Senbeta also commended staff members at TRIO EOCs across the Twin Cities. “I have a great team to work for, and a very supportive supervisor—hence, I call myself blessed,” she said.

TRIO participants drive the growth and success of TRIO EOC, said Sanbeta, who travels to Washington DC once a year with her team to advocate for funding for the program. 

“When our EOC Achievers speak at a conference, there is not a dry eye in the room. They say, ‘He or she at TRIO said they believed in me and that I am capable. That made me believe in myself.’ Some faced unimaginable life obstacles, or they were incarcerated, and now due to TRIO, they are running a big company or have become executives after they’ve been told all their life that they are unable and unworthy. That’s my proud moment,” she said.

What services does TRIO EOC provide?

The federally funded TRIO program operates two projects at Minneapolis College: the Educational Opportunity Center (assisting with college application, financial aid, educational and career exploration) and Starting Point (also known as Student Support Services, assisting Minneapolis College students with academic advising, course registration, transfer planning and scholarship applications, goal setting, and mentoring). All services are free to qualifying students.

TRIO EOC helps adult students with goal-setting and planning amidst their busy lives. “If you don’t have a goal, it’s like driving without a compass. You must have a vision, goals and a timeline. We have seen people who have no goal changing their major often and accumulating a lot of debt, with no credentials,” said EOC director Senbeta. She hopes every student will access EOC services, especially first-generation and low-income college students. 

Senbeta is adamant about the value of getting an education and working toward a degree in a subject that interests you. “Education is an investment that keeps giving,” she said.

A bit of EOC history

TRIO is not an acronym. It represents the three programs originally established by the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 and the Higher Education Act of 1965: Upward Bound, Talent Search, and Student Support Services. 

According to the U.S. Department of Education, “Over the years, the TRIO Programs have been expanded and improved to provide a wider range of services and to reach more students who need assistance. The Higher Education Amendments of 1972 added the fourth program to the TRIO group by authorizing the Educational Opportunity Centers.”

TRIO EOC established its Minneapolis College location 34 years ago, in 1988.

How to access TRIO EOC services

Educational Opportunity Center services are available in person at the Minneapolis College Welcome Center (room T.2800) weekdays 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. (open until 6 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays) and online.

Appointments are encouraged but walk-ins are accommodated daily. To set an appointment, call 612-659-6543 or email eoc@minneapolis.edu.  To join the weekly Wednesday 1 p.m. Zoom session via laptop or cell phone or visit the following link.

Dec. 1 event parking: The Minneapolis College parking ramp is located at 1420 Hennepin Avenue South, (north side of Hennepin Ave). Ramp entrances are right-turn-only off of Hennepin Ave., and right or left turn from Laurel Ave., on the north side of the building. It is illegal to make a left turn into the Minneapolis College parking ramp from Hennepin Ave., and the Minneapolis Police department actively enforces this restriction.

Photo caption: TRIO EOC director Nardos Senbeta (right) with a colleague at the Council for Opportunity in Education conference in Washington DC, March 2022.

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