Education has the power to shift dynamics that change the direction of a person’s life. Education opens doors – not only to increased employment opportunities but to new ways of viewing the world and one’s part in it.
“Education isn’t just about a job. Education is about feeling a sense of pride and hope and the possible, and that you communicate that to other people.” – Dr. Kenya Ayers, President of Tarrant County College’s Northeast Campus
These invaluable impacts on the individual are alone a driving force of why we believe in the investment of education. It’s an investment in a person’s financial future and long-term prosperity. But the benefits of this investment go beyond the individual, creating new possibilities for an entire family and generations to come. As time goes on, these outcomes can shift communities and help unravel historical and institutional barriers faced by underserved and low-income communities.
Increasing Education Access and Completion
The power of education cannot be overstated.
That’s why student success programs across the country are implementing evidence-backed approaches to eradicating barriers to persistence and completion. Because we need to shift from merely increasing access to college to ensuring students are empowered in finishing college.
Catholic Charities Fort Worth is excited to see new federal funding proposed in President Biden’s American Families Plan and FY22 Budget Request that would invest in evidence-based approaches to student success. This funding would support programs like Stay the Course® (STC) in increasing college completion rates for underserved student populations. A #CollegeCompletionFund would support programs across the nation, from New York to Georgia, including our peers at:
MAAPS at Georgia State University
Together, we form a coalition of programs creating shift in our communities through education.
The Need for Education Completion Programs
Research shows that a community college degree increases earning potential and employment opportunities. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, someone with an associate degree typically earns $7,332 more per year in full-time employment than those with only a high school diploma. In Texas, the difference in earnings is even higher at $8,393 more per year. Still, nationally, more than 60% of those who attempt earning a 2-year degree or certificate do not successfully complete it within six years of enrolling.
Research has also indicated the problem of community college completion is particularly pronounced for students from low-income households – with lower completion rates of 32%, 21%, and only 9% for students from the third, second, and lowest quartiles of earners.
A federal #CollegeCompletionFund would be a notable shift in public policy, providing a critical investment in long-term solutions to inequities in education. We need to shift the focus of higher education from equality of opportunity to equity in retention and completion for underserved students.
The Importance of Knowing Our Impact
Our research partners at the Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunities have provided evidence that Stay the Course works. When paired with a case manager, students increase their success of graduating at a rate 4x higher than those who don’t receive our services. What’s more, female students were 2.7 times more likely to continue in school than the control group, and 31.5% more likely to earn an associate degree. Overall, Stay the Course students were 25% more likely to stay in school after six semesters and 16% more likely to earn an associate degree.
Both internal and external research and evaluation are core to our investment in our education programs. We want to provide the best services possible for our clients, which means we must continually gain new insights.
Investing in the Realness of Students’ Lives
We combine this evidence-backed approach with an emphasis on being person-centered. Our educational navigation services are holistic and individualized. We believe this is how we create lasting impact. Education is something that lasts. Truly investing in people and the realness of their lives is something that lasts. We meet people where they are and walk with them as they forge their own path to their bigger, brighter future.
How to Help
Follow our #ShiftingDynamics campaign this week, and help us spread awareness by liking, sharing and commenting on our posts.
Join us for a Twitterstorm on Tuesday, August 17th from 11-12 pm CT and a Twitter chat on Thursday, Augutst 19th from 2-3 pm CT.
Let your legislators know that you care about education and investing in a #CollegeCompletionFund.