ESCC Selected for ‘Achieving the Dream’

“Achieving the Dream” has selected Eastern Shore Community College and 15 other community colleges in four states to implement a strategy to help low-income individuals and families achieve financial stability by promoting postsecondary completion for students whose economic challenges can thwart their academic and career goals.

The strategy involves intentionally integrating and sequencing three distinct but related services:

1. Education and employment advancement—education, job readiness, training, and placement;

2. Income and work supports—access to student financial aid, public benefits, tax credits, and free tax assistance; and

3. Financial services and asset building—financial education and coaching linked to affordable products and services to help families build self-sufficiency, stabilize their finances, and become more economically competitive.

Eastern Shore Community College President Dr. Linda Thomas-Glover stated, “ESCC has recognized for some time that lack of student success is not always a matter of academic deficiencies. We have seen that in many circumstances, it has actually been non-academic issues (transportation, lack of finances, poor knowledge of how to manage finances, etc.) that led to poor student performance and success. The chance to be a part of a national initiative in which we become knowledgeable of resources (academic and non-academic) that can better assist students in achieving their goals presents a tremendous opportunity for ESCC faculty and staff to have a positive impact on many students and our community. I am very proud of the members of the college team who worked on the development of a plan that was competitive. We look forward to seeing improved student successes as a result of the implementation of this initiative.”

Eastern Shore Community College was selected through a competitive application process that assessed the commitment to racial equity and poverty reduction as well as the college’s demonstrated ability to support student success using data-informed decision-making.

This effort is supported with funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Lumina Foundation, MetLife Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

“Our goal is to support students who have already taken a big step toward their long-term financial success by addressing the short-term economic challenges that can get in their way,” said Rosa Maria Castañeda, a senior associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “This expansion builds on the momentum behind the Working Families Success Network strategy as well as the efforts of colleges across the country to find smarter ways to help low-income students cross the finish line.”

Through this work, Achieving the Dream seeks to demonstrate that embedding the WFSN strategy in community college culture and systems can be cost effective and improve student outcomes and financial stability. The goal is for the intentional integration and sequencing of services – which evidence suggests make a difference in whether a student thrives or languishes – to become the routine way colleges support low-income students and their families.

“Through the expansion of the WFSN strategy in community colleges, we expect to learn more about the power of bundling or coupling services needed by low-income students with family responsibilities,” said Carol Lincoln, Senior Vice President of Achieving the Dream. “Colleges that have pioneered this strategy have seen increases of 10-15 percent in term-to-term retention. Since financial challenges are the most frequently given reason students drop out, new solutions are needed for helping students persist and complete credentials. WFSN colleges will produce new lessons about the mix, intensity, and delivery of critical services that can help close achievement gaps and keep students on pathways to completion and careers.”




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