Onondaga Community College has been awarded a $3 million federal grant to help low-income students succeed. Out of the 10,000 students on campus, three-quarters of OCC’s first time students are identified as low-income.
President Dr. Casey Crabill explains that these students often have to focus their attention on other issues, limiting their focus in the classroom.
“If that attention has to be focused on secure and safe housing, issues of food insecurity, even transportation and child care, those kinds of non-school related issues, which are highly correlated to people living in poverty, can actually create barriers.”
The grant from the U.S. Department of Education will continue for five years. It’s part of the “Strengthening Intuitions” programs, which helps colleges expand their capacity to serve low income students. Dr. Crabill notes they’ll be able to better help students from entering college to attaining a degree.
“A student, for example, knows from the beginning, these are the courses I have to take, this is the order they’re likely to occur, these are the supports based on what I’m dealing with and when they’ll be available. It also provides referrals for professors who notice students struggling with different challenges.”
This grant bolsters OCC’s Guided Pathways to Success program. It provides academic assistance and support systems that will help students stay in college. She adds it can help them achieve their final goal of getting a degree or credential.
“Although community colleges were built on access with the idea that the opportunity was to get in to higher education, we now understand that the real opportunity is to get out of higher education with a credential.”
The Project will be supported by faculty and staff from across OCC; implementation will begin immediately on campus and continue through 2022.