TRIO personnel began to meet informally in the late sixties and early seventies.  The first title they gave themselves was Division of Student Support for Special Programs (DSSSP). Dr. Alfonso Gore at A&T, Joe Dempsey at Elizabeth City, Donald Armstrong at St. Augustine’s, Elroy Lewis at UNC-Chapel Hill, Arthur “Red” Alderman at A&T, Heath Rader at Southeastern Community College, Annie White at Shaw and Virginia Foxx at Appalachian were some of the founding members.  Dr. Gore chaired the first meetings.  Minutes were not available to give much detail until 1973.  This was a year that North Carolina had a significant increase in the number of TRIO programs.

The North Carolina Council of Educational Opportunity Programs was organized under a Constitution and By-laws dated May 4, 1973.  The Office of President-elect was one of the original offices of the association, which was later deleted in a constitutional revision.

The Council held joint meetings with NCASFAA, the state student financial aid organization, in Greensboro, NC May 14 – 16, 1974.  This was an effort to orient them to TRIO and develop a close working relationship for the benefit of our students.  It was NCCEOP’s desire to maintain these joint meetings periodically but they were not able, due to a lack of interest within NCASFAA and scheduling problems.

Annie White was the 1973-74 President and Virginia Foxx President-elect.  Other officers at the meeting for the 1974-75 year were Tommy Swett, Vice President; Carol Gartrell, Secretary; Phyllis Scott, Treasurer; Helena Tidwell, Editor and Elroy Lewis, Regional Representative.  The beginning of a newsletter was endorsed at the meeting as well as requesting the executive committee to get membership dues and registration fees for the two annual conferences.

Virginia Foxx and Elroy Lewis were very active on the fairly new Regional Advisory Board that was formed by the Regional Office of Education in Atlanta, GA.  Each state in the region would have two representatives.  Vivian McGee was the senior program officer that met with the Board and Ella Fisher from Georgia was the first chairperson of the Advisory Board.  SAEOPP evolved out of this Regional Advisory Board.

NCCEOP was experiencing rapid growth in attendance at its state meetings.  Over sixty registered for the Spring Conference in Winston-Salem.  Pansey Reddick hosted the conference.  The Council had thirty-two paid members at this time.  The Council leadership recognized a need for staff development for the influx of new personnel from the many new projects.  Therefore, the emphasis at the conference was program management, counseling techniques, curriculum development and instruction.

NCCEOP was on its way to becoming a strong viable organization with its officers and members active on the state and regional level.  The two annual state meetings and the one regional meeting were providing solid training, professional development, exposure to other professionals and visibility for our programs.  As the state meetings cris-crossed the state from Nags Head to Asheville, organizational and programmatic changes were taking place on the state, regional and national level.  During 1975-76, a lot of planning and discussion took place in the region relative to forming SAEOPP.  Some tension was felt between the Regional Advisory Board and the Regional Office of Education as it became evident that an independent organization would be formed.  This tension caused a ripple effect across the region because of the paternal attitude the Regional Office had toward the projects.  Project directors were afraid that there might be some retribution in future funding.  This did not deter the NC Council as the membership voted on June 4, 1976 to support the formation of the regional organization and abolish the Regional Advisory Board.

Since NCCEOP began in 1973, the Council has grown in the number of programs and in membership.  The Council’s mission remains unchanged.  It continues its commitment to educational advocacy for low-income students, and serving and meeting the professional needs of its membership.