Family Economic Security Program
Since 2015, the Family Economic Security Program (FESP) has been an innovative partnership between Housatonic Community College, the HCC Foundation and Fairfield County’s Community Foundation. Adapted from a national model developed by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, FESP addresses barriers that marginalized students face to college persistence and completion through intensive and comprehensive wrap-around services and supports. It has evolved across three campuses in CT.
Over 400 students participated in FESP at HCC since 2015; average student retention rate was 30% higher than general population. Beginning in the Fall 2021, FESP narrowed its focus on supporting low-income, female students with children who are also working one or more jobs. Its “2Gen” approach will encourage 50 students annually and their families to become financially secure and independent, achieve their educational goals, and enter wage sustaining careers.
Launched as a one-year pilot initiative in January 2021, the Equity Project increases access to opportunities and economic mobility by intentionally and strategically supporting under-resourced and under-represented students including first generation college student, undocumented, LGBT+ and students of color.
The first cohort of 20 students (10 male/ 10 female) received financial supports targeted at access and retention, combined with campus engagement and learning opportunities to increase their sense of community, belonging and ability to succeed at HCC and beyond. Each student was paired with an achievement coach who are leaders in the college’s Men and Women Centers.
In 2022, the Equity Project doubled the number of students served, building on the pilot’s year of learning and achievements, and impacting more students.
Justice in Higher Education Program
With a launch grant from the M&T Bank’s Amplify Fund in 2023, the Justice in Higher Education Program supports formerly incarcerated individuals seeking higher education and workforce development opportunities through Housatonic. Students are provided financial assistance for tuition and other academic needs, and one-on-one achievement coaching to help remove barriers and increase persistence. The goals of this program are to increase enrollment and employability for this population, and ultimately reduce recidivism so that individuals can establish productive, financially stable lives.
Formerly incarcerated individuals are among the most vulnerable populations, facing stigmas and many challenges to community re-entry that oftentimes results in high rates of recidivism. In Connecticut, the rate of recidivism is about 50% in as few as three years. And one of the most impactful changes to lower the recidivism rate is to eliminate existing barriers for the formerly incarcerated to obtain education and workforce development skills.
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