SAS, a leader in business intelligence, and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) announced an agreement to lead a coalition of partners in the development and funding of regional educational impact grants that will encourage collaboration between local higher-education institutions and K-12 school districts to educate families affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

In the wake of the devastation, community leaders and public education administrators across Louisiana must absorb millions of dollars in budget shortfall due to lost tuition dollars and tax revenues. This challenge comes at a time when the state's displaced students, families and workers are in critical need of education and training to address the immediate recovery effort, as well as the long-term goal of preparing workers for the renewed Louisiana economy.

"Immediately following the hurricanes and even as recovery efforts continue, students and faculty have the dual challenge of learning today, while planning for tomorrow," said Dr. Walter G. Bumphus, president of LCTCS. "We are excited about working with the SAS team on this education relief project and are impressed that they are taking both a short- and long-term approach to helping with our region's recovery."

The intent of the first round of grants is to catalyze immediate projects that will affect the education of displaced students and their families. In total, SAS will provide more than $3.5 million in software, services, employee time and direct donations to fund several programs and projects throughout the state of Louisiana.

To help address the needs of displaced students and faculty, as well as the needs of adult workers retooling their skills for a new labor market - and with the ultimate goal of helping students become better prepared for high-school graduation and entry into higher education - SAS has made its Curriculum Pathways online learning tools available free of charge to educators and students throughout the state of Louisiana. Curriculum Pathways provides innovative, Web-based resources in core disciplines including English, math, history, science and Spanish for grades 8-14. Topics are mapped to state and national standards so that educators can meet their goals of raising test scores, differentiating instruction and engaging students by targeting higher-order thinking skills. Moreover, because these resources are completely online, they can reach students in class, at home and in community centers.

Additionally, SAS will fund a series of displaced student and parent projects focused on education. South Louisiana Community College, Baton Rouge Community College and Louisiana Technical College each have designed local education impact projects in collaboration with their K-12 partner schools. Each set of partners will engage in a range of activities aimed at reaching out to displaced high-school students (and their parents) to foster the motivation to develop the skills for and explore the options of moving into higher education - particularly in degree fields that will be growing in Louisiana's post-Katrina economy. The intent of these projects is to stimulate the use of education for personal, economic and regional development in post-disaster relief efforts.

Participating colleges and K-12 school districts will measure the success of the grants by tracking outcomes, including: the number of students who complete career paths or work plans and take a first step toward completing their plan; the number of students who enroll in higher education institutions as a direct result of participation in a grants program; and the number of students who submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application to secure financial aid for attending college.

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