Southern Miss Center for Community and Civic Engagement expands REACH program

Southern Miss Center for Community and Civic Engagement expands REACH program

This is a news release from the University of Southern Mississippi

The Center for Community and Civic Engagement (CCCE) at The University of Southern Mississippi has announced an expansion and name change for REACH, the University's federal community work study program.

The program, in which Southern Miss students receive federal financial aid to serve as tutors for area children, will continue operations as REACH with the new name of Reinvesting Eagles in the Community of Hattiesburg. The program will expand its mission to allow students to serve at 501(c)(3) agencies that address varying community needs.

Educational institutions like Southern Miss that receive federal dollars for financial aid are required to spend at least seven percent of those funds on community service jobs. These jobs are developed in collaboration with community partners and are intended to improve quality of life for area residents.

For the past five years, REACH members have worked with organizations such as the Oseola McCarty Youth Development Center and Hawkins Elementary School with a focus on building skills in reading, English, and arithmetic. With its expansion, REACH will now be able to offer students of varying interests more choice in where to serve, while also providing support to CCCE's partners outside of education.

Christy Arrazattee, director of the CCCE, stresses that existing partnerships will still remain a priority.

"Education is still one of the areas in which REACH can have a great impact, so we hope to keep as many tutors as we can at schools and after school programs," Arrazattee says. "At the same time, we're hoping that a broader focus will be a great opportunity for both our students and community organizations."

The program, Reinvesting Eagles in the Community of Hattiesburg, is available to undergraduate students who are eligible for Federal Work Study. Students can determine work-study eligibility by checking their SOAR account or by checking with USM Financial Aid.

Students must have completed the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form before the financial aid office can determine eligibility. REACH applicants should be able to commit to at least the amount of hours awarded.

Students or community organizations that are interested in working with REACH should contact Mary Katherine Hendry at 601.266.5074 or