• Community Impact
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
Accolades & Honors

Pitt earned a federal Rural Postsecondary and Economic Development grant


The University of Pittsburgh is one of 22 U.S. higher education institutions to receive a grant to improve rates of postsecondary education enrollment, persistence and completion among students in rural communities. The Rural Postsecondary and Economic Development (RPED) grant program promotes the development of high-quality career pathways aligned to high-skill, high-wage and in-demand industry sectors and occupations in the region.

The Pitt effort — which earned researchers $2,227,368 over four years — was spearheaded by April Belback, associate vice provost for student success and advising, pictured above. The University will use the funding to develop high-quality career pathways through admissions recruitment and precollege programming; provide resources for rural students, including internships, mentoring, online tutoring, academic coaching, academic success workshops, career prep, financial literacy, cohort programs and cultural programming; and scale technology resources, such as degree and career exploration tools, mentoring platform and certificate building.

In America's rural communities, only 29% of individuals between the ages of 18 and 24 are enrolled in higher education, compared to almost 48% of their counterparts in urban areas and 42% in suburban areas. In addition to navigating how to pay for college and the application process, students in rural areas face other barriers in accessing and completing college, including reliable transportation, food and housing insecurity and access to health care and high-speed internet.

"When we invest in postsecondary attainment in rural communities, we create pathways for students to find rewarding careers that do not require them to leave their hometowns for economic opportunity,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said. “These grant awards will help rural institutions raise the bar for student success and the attainment of valuable degrees and credentials that lead to brighter futures and greater prosperity."