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Appeal Funds Help EOP Students Excel

Appeal Funds Help EOP Students Excel

Posted: April 8, 2015

When students are admitted into Buffalo State’s 48-year-old Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), it’s because they show promise.

The odds are stacked against them. Typically, their high school grade point average is below 85. A majority of applicants come from homes with annual incomes less than $25,000. Some are first-generation college students and/or children of immigrants. But these students have a spark that demonstrates innate intelligence, curiosity, and a desire for a life beyond what a high school diploma would afford them.

EOP students are expected to earn the same grades as their counterparts. And many do. In 2013, half of the EOP students held a GPA of 3.0 or greater; their retention has been greater than that of the college as a whole. Currently, 735 EOP students are enrolled, and that’s about average, said Yanick Jenkins, who has served as EOP director since 2001.

To help them succeed, 16 EOP staff members on the seventh floor of South Tower provide free tutoring, academic advisement, and counseling. But their impact extends beyond what can be documented on paper; they provide a family atmosphere so that EOP students, regardless of their background or circumstances, don’t feel lost. The hope is that they thrive. 

However, Ottilie Woodruff, a longtime EOP senior academic adviser, noted, “We’re not holding their hands; we’re coaching them on how to succeed in college.”

Even with academic and moral support, obstacles, often of the financial variety, arise. Sometimes a seemingly small shortfall of $100 or $200 to cover books or a car repair can turn into a giant obstacle.

For those situations, there is the EOP Student Financial Assistance Fund designated for emergencies. It is funded through contributions to Buffalo State’s annual Faculty and Staff Appeal, and is one of five EOP funds within the campaign.

Another, the Jaelah Yannis Jenkins Fund, assists with course supplies, conference travel, and anything else that supports students academically. Established in 2005 as the EOP Program Fund, it was renamed in 2009 in memory of Yanick’s daughter, who died in 2007 at age 10 after a battle with brain cancer.

“It made sense to name a fund for my daughter as she practically grew up here and knew the staff and the students well,” Jenkins said.

Other EOP funds include:

  • The Kolawole (Tommy) Glover Memorial Scholarship Fund, named for an engineering technology student who died in 2000. The scholarship is $500 per year and intended for CIS or engineering technology majors.
  • SEEK EOP Funds, which assist students having minor financial difficulties. Funds are limited to $50 per student.
  • Chi Alpha Epsilon (XAE) National Honor Society Fund.
  • Dougherty-Witten Scholarship Fund, which was endowed by Buffalo financial planners George Dougherty and Gary Witten. It provides one $1,000 scholarship per year for a student within the School of the Professions.


It’s amazing, Jenkins said, how just a little help and encouragement can go a long way. Almost 150 EOP students have either graduated in December 2014 or will graduate in May or August 2015. Additionally, 457 EOP students will be recognized at the Arthur O. Eve EOP Honors Convocation on May 7 for earning a 3.0 GPA or higher.

Because of your support, these students are able to overcome financial obstacles and graduate from Buffalo State. To contribute to an EOP fund or any of the numerous funds included within the 2015 Faculty and Staff Appeal, contact Claire Collier at (716) 878-5206. To see a full list of funds and scholarships, go to


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