Housatonic Community College’s advancements in the areas of efficiency and effectiveness were recognized by the Community College Futures Assembly, which recently named the College’s Family Economic Security Program (FESP) as a finalist for its national 2019 Bellwether Award.

“It is an honor to be among the finalists for this prestigious award. We’re excited to compete and share the program with other colleges because it is really helping our students,” said Alese Mulvihill, Associate Dean of Student Success at Housatonic Community College (HCC). “Our hope is that other schools will institute FESP in their own communities and get the same results we’re seeing.”

The FESP program provides bundled services to HCC students of low to moderate income, whereby students receive resources and tools to advance their education, career and economic security. Achievement coaches provide academic, financial and life counseling, career coordinators provide career counseling, and students participate in workshops and activities.

The high-touch program was adopted from the Center for Working Families model from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and is an innovative partnership between HCC, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation Fund for Women and Girls, and the Housatonic Community College Foundation.

As part of the Bellweather Awards process, the awards application must identify the issue or challenge that the leading edge program or activity was designed to address, describe the process, timeline, participants, and resources required to implement the program or activity, specify the results and/or impact, and elaborate on lessons learned for colleges considering a replication of the initiative.

Now in its fourth year, the FESP program is a model for student success, with retention rates for FESP students a full 30 percent higher than those of the College.

“FESP is a perfect example of the power of partnerships to transform services for students,” said Dr. Paul Broadie, HCC President. “Through these collaborations, the program increases graduation rates, leading to greater employment opportunities, increased earnings, and the economic expansion of surrounding communities. The impact is tremendous.”

Bellwether College Consortium through the Community College Futures Assembly addresses the best practices at community colleges. Thirty finalist colleges in three categories were competitively chosen by a national panel of judges to compete for the coveted award.  The selection process culminates with the winning program initiatives to be announced this month.

“The Fund for Women & Girls designed FESP to address the academic achievement gap among Fairfield County’s low-income women and simultaneously promote their economic advancement. FESP uses a proven model that yields higher graduation rates,” said Tricia Hyacinth, Director, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation’s Fund for Women & Girls.  “We’ve seen firsthand how the program improves odds for women and their families.”

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