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$3.7 million in new grants will deepen partnerships between community colleges, human services nonprofits

Education, Human Services

The Kresge Foundation awarded $3.7 million in new grants to strengthen six partnerships between human services nonprofits and community colleges that together, will connect people with low incomes in cities to human service supports and educational pathways to advance social and economic mobility.

Boosting Opportunities for Social and Economic Mobility for Families (BOOST), a three-year joint grant-making initiative between Kresge’s Education and Human Services Programs, builds on Kresge’s commitment to strengthen urban higher education ecosystems and work across teams to accelerate social and economic mobility using a racial equity lens.

“By bringing human services nonprofits that aspire to use strong two-generation, whole family approaches together with community colleges, we can eliminate the barriers that limit access to higher education and create career pathways that move families up the social and economic ladder,” Raquel Hatter, Kresge Human Services Program managing director, said.

BOOST partnerships will shape solutions that connect:

  • Community college students with critical human services supports to help them successfully juggle work, family and school, without halting their studies;
  • Clients served by human services organizations to accessible, high-quality educational pathways that lead to family-sustaining careers; and
  • Clients and students to educational opportunities that promote career advancement.

“A high-quality college education can help students with low incomes succeed not only today, but throughout their lives,” Bill Moses, Kresge Education Program managing director, said.  “But at colleges all around the country, students often juggle work, family and school. Nearly 1 in 5 college students are parents, and that rate is even higher at community colleges. We believe that if more students receive the critical supports that human services nonprofits provide, more students will stay in college and graduate.”

BOOST grantee partners:

Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Hartford and Capital Community College, located in Hartford, Conn., will target 700 families at three neighborhood-based Family Centers to receive coordinated supports in three areas: (1) academic supports such as college application and financial aid assistance; (2) workforce services, including job placement, career planning, and financial coaching; and (3) social capital activities that promote healthy child-parent and parent-to-parent relationships.

The Center for Urban Families and Baltimore City Community College, located in Baltimore, Md., will coordinate services for Baltimore’s under- and unemployed fathers and their families, including individuals with criminal backgrounds, while identifying and addressing policy, education, and other barriers that limit social and economic mobility.  Through the initial work, 100 students will receive whole-family supports coupled with education and training in post-secondary career pathways that lead to family-sustaining wages.

LaGuardia Community College and Commonpoint Queens, located in New York City, will help shift workforce development practices in the City University of New York system and at community providers by modeling and testing a new approach that integrates English language into a community health certificate program and provides wraparound supports. More than 200 immigrants will acquire the language and vocational skills needed to achieve their aspiration and succeed in the labor market.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and Forward Service Corporation, located in Green Bay, Wis., will better support Green Bay residents accessing public assistance or the college’s basic needs supports by developing common intake tools, strengthening data sharing, and adopting the same service delivery framework that trains direct care staff to work with client students on immediate needs and long-term goals. Client students will experience more seamless services that improve credential attainment and job placement in healthcare and other family-sustaining jobs.

Onondaga Community College and PEACE, Inc., located in Syracuse, N.Y., will strengthen coordination by developing new shared intake and referral processes, jointly training staff an evidence-based coaching models, and incorporating analysis on lifetime/springboard jobs in their educational pathways and career advising for client students.

Portland Community College and Albina Head Start, located in Portland, Ore., will expand their existing career-focused education programs and holistic supports to 200 more Early Head Start and Head Start parents, while identifying and reforming organizational or system-level barriers to meeting the needs of parent students. The partnership will actively disseminate its efforts to help shift Oregon’s early childhood and higher education systems towards better approaches for parent students from low-income communities of color.

The six BOOST partnerships, each working at the vanguard of social and economic mobility, were selected from a competitive pool of more than 70 applications from around the country. Each partnership is advancing new ways of collaborating and better approaches to supporting people with low incomes.

In addition to grant funding, BOOST grantees and partners will convene annually, participate in a cross-site evaluation and receive technical assistance from Jobs for the Future, a national nonprofit organization, that will serve as the foundation’s management and learning partner.

Kresge staff is working remotely, and our offices are closed until further notice.  See our promise to partners during COVID-19.
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