In 1993, OACHE emerged as an unusual partnership (in fact, the first of its kind) between public secondary schools and colleges and universities.
Conducted by the Institute for Local Government Administration and Rural Development of Ohio University, the report, "Appalachian Access and Success," in effect, gave birth to OACHE. To respond to the challenges addressed by the report, the Board of Regents asked the state legislature to create and fund OACHE at $500,000 a year.
OACHE awards small competitive "access project" grants to participating school districts and block grants to higher education institutions.
Several other programs operate under OACHE: an Educational Opportunity Center helping low-income adult students to get into, or get back into, college; a partnership to administer scholarships for tobacco-growing families that uses $2 million of Ohio's tobacco settlement fund; and a five-year federal "Gear-Up" grant that aggressively encourages a group of seventh graders in half a dozen low-income schools to prepare for college.
OACHE's most important success is its ability to boost the college-going rate in K-12 schools in Appalachian Ohio.
Each year OACHE's several programs help nearly 14,000 of Ohio's Appalachian citizens to break through obstacles to higher education.
OACHE's most important shortcoming, in the program's own words, is the failure to "satisfactorily engage economic development leaders across the region to invest in educational attainment as an economic development tool." Too often, it says, educational concerns take second place to other important and more tangible development goals like water and sewer projects.
Before the OACHE era, diverse attempts to move Appalachian students to college saw varying degrees of success.
Concerning replicability--a central criterion of the innovations award--programs modeled on OACHE now operate in Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.
Created in 1992 by restaurateur Bob Evans, who was then a member of the Ohio Board of Regents, OACHE
helps more than 14,000 rural Ohioans obtain a college education.