The Tri-State Consortium includes educators, administrators, counselors and staff, working in the state supported educational opportunity programs in New Jersey (Educational Opportunity Fund), New York, (Educational Opportunity Programs in the State University System (EOP), Higher Education Opportunity Programs, New York State Education Department (HEOP) and Search for Education, Elevation and Knowledge (SEEK) in the City University of New York), and Pennsylvania (ACT 101).
The Tri-State Consortium has a four-fold purpose:
- To improve access to, and the quality of, higher education for students who are economically disadvantaged and academically underprepared in the states of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania;
- To stimulate conversation and share common concerns and techniques among various opportunity program personnel;
- To increase the effectiveness of these programs by strengthening the case of support; and
- To ensure the survival of Opportunity Programs in the Tri-State region and beyond.
The Tri-State Consortium of Opportunity Programs in Higher Education is the product of a vision for expanding and supporting access to higher education–a vision that was first expressed in 1978 via the Tri-State Opportunities Conference held in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. This historic conference, titled “Minorities in Higher Education: Public Policy and Futures Planning”, brought together proponents of educational equity from New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Conference attendees were united across geographic, professional, and ethnic lines in their commitment to and belief in higher education as the social leveler. The report from that first event is available at this PDF file (PDF).
While the Association formed by these educators was short-lived, their vision remained, and in December 1988 the Tri-State Consortium of Opportunity Programs in Higher Education was revived, largely through the efforts of dedicated opportunity professionals led by Robert James, Mitch Durand, and Diane Hill. They envisioned hosting conferences which would serve as vehicles for sharing best practices among the professionals of the state funded opportunity programs—Educational Opportunity Fund in New Jersey; SEEK, College Discovery, Higher Education Opportunity Program, and Educational Opportunity Program in New York, and Act 101 in Pennsylvania. The three sectors agreed to alternately host biennial conferences in NJ, PA, and NY. Thus in March 1991 the Consortium held its first conference in East Brunswick, New Jersey, in April 1993 the organization held its second conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and in April 1995, the Consortium hosted its third conference in Uniondale, New York.
Since 1995, the Tri-State Consortium has hosted thirteen biennial conferences rotating among each state. The 14th biennial conference is scheduled for April 23-26, 2017 in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Today, the Consortium membership represents over 420 colleges and universities located in the States of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. At these institutions the opportunity programs annually serve over 60,000 academically and financially disadvantaged college students.