An MCC initiative that trains low-income female students how to achieve economic self-sufficiency has earned the College’s 2008 Innovation of the Year award.
Women on the Move, honored earlier this year as one of the most groundbreaking projects in North America by the League for Innovation in the Community College, is geared toward working students who earn too much money for government support but not enough to constitute a living wage. It was launched in January 2007 and funded by a $67,873 grant from the Women’s Foundation of Genesee Valley.
“It’s really been an effective way to reach out to a group of students who often do get lost in the cracks,” says Julie White, assistant director of student services and the grant’s project director. “It helps give them that boost to take that next step.” Also honored for developing the program are Counselors Ivan Matthew and Corinne Mulhall, Program Coordinator Jesica Miller and Director of Grants Patricia Williams.
Since the program’s inception, about 75 women have enrolled in the 10-week program, which offers guidance in setting and achieving both short- and long-term goals for college and career. Along with training sessions provided by MCC’s counseling and advising centers, the students are paired with female faculty members as mentors who offer a professional perspective and access to resources.
White meets with the students she mentors in her office and out for coffee. “It’s important to get to know students in a different way,” she says. Last year she connected a student looking for an internship working in immigration rights with a colleague who is the director of the International Student Services program at Rochester Institute of Technology. The student has completed the internship, graduated and is heading to a criminal justice college in New York City this fall to continue her education.
Based at the Damon City campus, Women on the Move has an impressive retention rate, with 75 percent of its students returning to continue their education compared to a national average of 50 percent among community college students. A recent report to the Women’s Foundation showed improvements in several areas including: improving access to better jobs with benefits as well as finding better health care and better housing. The goal is to follow up with students every six months or so, says White, “to really start to get a sense of how many of them are continuing their educational or career path.”