Financial Empowerment for Student Success

In 2011, Achieving the Dream, Inc., the leading national organization focused on student success and equity in community colleges, and MDC, a nonprofit with nearly 50 years of experience in developing economic and workforce development strategies for communities, institutions, and individuals, joined together, with funding from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, to support community colleges in scaling programs aimed at increasing the financial capability of their students.

The Financial Empowerment for Student Success (FESS) initiative was a two-year initiative focused on increasing student success through the provision of financial services. Three community colleges – Los Angeles Harbor College, the Community College of Baltimore County, and the Houston Community College System – received funding and substantial technical assistance for their financial capability programs.

The colleges designed their programs to capitalize on the expertise of Bank of America (BOA) staff serving as volunteers. In addition, these three colleges joined with several other Achieving the Dream colleges in a learning network aimed at increasing knowledge about how to implement these programs.

Each of the three participating institutions received $65,000 to support their work over two years, and all used internal resources to supplement the BOA investment in the form of funding and in-kind supports, such as space for on-site financial literacy centers. MDC provided direct support in the form of technical assistance and coaching, which included: regular consultation with MDC staff, including site visits; peer-learning opportunities; participation in a larger learning network of 10 additional Achieving the Dream colleges engaged in financial empowerment activities; and access to intensive financial coaching training offered by Central New Mexico Community College.

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