Reporter’s notebook

Photo: Matthew Dembicki

  • EAB initiative targets equity gaps in college completion
  • ED provides more funds for FWS experimental sites
  • CUNY will allocate $5M to expand mental health services
  • Two Maryland colleges expand partnership on some programs
  • Washington college adds IT baccalaureate degree
  • Wyoming expands course transfer effort

EAB initiative targets equity gaps in college completion

Education firm EAB on Wednesday announced its “Moon Shot for Equity” initiative to help close equity gaps within regional cohorts of two- and four-year colleges and universities by 2030.

Participating institutions will work together and with EAB to help more underrepresented students of color and other historically underserved populations graduate from college, according to a release. The first regional consortium of institutions includes Milwaukee Area Technical College in Wisconsin.

All colleges or higher education systems participating in the project will receive equity-mindedness training and implement 15 research-based best practices to remove systemic barriers to success. The institutions must also collaborate to establish common academic pathways to facilitate student transfers between two- and four-year institutions.

ED provides more funds for FWS Experimental Sites

The U.S. Education Department said Wednesday it would provide additional funding for Federal Work-Study (FWS) Experimental Sites mainly to supplement wages and to help participating colleges find more employer partners to provide educational work opportunities for students.

The department in February launched the initiative, which expands earn-and-learn opportunities for students by removing barriers to off-campus jobs, allowing students to work more hours, and permitting institutions to pay students for work-based learning such as apprenticeships, externships and clinical rotations. More than 70 associate-degree-granting institutions are among the 190 institutions participating in the pilot.

The selected institutions can use FWS funds to support more students working in the private sector and, for the first time, allow them to pay low-income students for work experiences required by their academic programs, such as student teaching and clinical rotations.

In addition to providing more for wages, the extra funds will support institutions in finding employer partners, help students find jobs and oversee the quality of the work opportunities. The “Job Location and Development” programs serve both FWS and non-FWS students, the department added.

The FWS pilot program will help assess whether students are better served when they are paid for work-based learning and allowed access to off-campus FWS jobs that align with their program, as measured by student retention, completion and improved job opportunities after graduation, according to the department.

CUNY will allocate $5M to expand mental health services

The City University of New York (CUNY) is expanding its mental health services to help a growing number of its students struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With $5 million from federal CARES Act funding, CUNY’s community colleges and four-year institutions will reach more students with online counseling and other remote wellness services, according to the system. The funding also will help to train and certify 120 campus clinical counselors in providing “teletherapy” services and to buy new technology that will make it easier for students to access the services.

According to a CUNY student survey conducted in the spring, 40% of the participants reported feeling nervous, anxious or on edge during more than half of the days in the two weeks prior to the survey. At least one-third of the students who responded said that in more than half the days during the same period, they felt little pleasure or interest in doing things; felt down, depressed or helpless; or were unable to stop worrying.

CUNY received $250 million from the federal CARES Act earlier this year, with nearly half disbursed directly to 192,000 students so far. The balance is reserved for allocation to campuses for a range of student supports, COVID-related costs and investments in online infrastructure and training.

Two Maryland colleges expand partnership on some programs

In Maryland, eligible Prince George’s Community College (PGCC) students can now transfer to the medical laboratory technology (MLT) program at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) and pay CSM’s in-county tuition rate.

The agreement builds on a 15-year model that has allowed CSM students to articulate to PGCC for radiography and respiratory therapy classes and more recently the PGCC nuclear medicine technology program, according to the colleges.

“The benefits of such programs are numerous,” Laura Polk, acting dean of science and health at CSM, said in a release. “The supplies and equipment requirements for such specialized health programs are extensive and expensive. Articulating with PGCC allows CSM students access to the three specialized health fields without CSM incurring the cost or physical space requirements for the laboratory, and now PGCC students will get the same benefits as our MLT program. Through these partnering agreements, CSM and PGCC students can take advantage of the tuition savings by paying in‐county tuition rates, and each college benefits by the increase to its respective program’s enrollment for these highly specialized health classes.”

Tiffany Gill, a professor at the College of Southern Maryland and coordinator of its medical laboratory technology program, talks antibodies on the steps of the La Plata Campus library last fall. (Photo: CSM)

Washington college adds IT baccalaureate program

Tacoma Community College (TCC) has launched a new bachelor of applied science (BAS) degree in information technology (IT).

The IT networking information systems and technology program will start classes in fall 2021. The college already offers BAS degrees in community health, health information management and applied management.

Created with input from local employers, TCC’s new program builds on the skills of its networking and cybersecurity associate of applied science program that leads to a BAS degree.

Wyoming expands course transfer effort

Courses taken at any of Wyoming’s seven community colleges will soon count toward requirements for bachelor’s degrees at the University of Wyoming (UW), the two systems announced Wednesday.

The “universal 2-plus-2” articulation partnership expands the more limited 2-plus-2 agreements between the institutions, which have applied to many popular degree programs over the past five years. The new plan will allow UW agreements with each college, rather than the department-by-department approach, the systems said. The agreements will outline the transfer assurances for all students, regardless of the individual academic discipline.

“The articulation universal memorandum of understanding (MOU) between UW and the community colleges is the next step in broadening articulation for student retention and completion,” said Sandy Caldwell, executive director of the Wyoming Community College Commission.

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.