There are two ISD networks of community colleges. One, managed by MDC, includes community colleges that were the early adopters of the Working Families Success Network (WFSN)’s ISD approach and are now seasoned practitioners. The other, called the Working Students Success Network (WSSN), includes community colleges that are part of a national expansion of the early network, supported by Achieving the Dream.

A number of integrated services delivery programs are housed at community colleges, including the Centers for Working Families Community College Learning Network, now comprised of 16 colleges nationally that are implementing their own CWF approaches, managed by MDC. A nonprofit organization that has been publishing research and developing programs focused on expanding opportunity, MDC has been reducing poverty and addressing structural inequity for nearly 50 years.

The longest running CWF college started its efforts in 2005, while most of the others have opened within the past three years. As a result, colleges are adding new services and changing existing ones, particularly creating new systems and processes to adopt a bundled services approach for serving their targeted students.

CWFs reach students where they are and help identify and resolve financial challenges that can disrupt or impede postsecondary education. The Colleges are using philanthropic support to strengthen what works among existing student services and add what is missing to provide all three of the CWF pillars.

A study of 10 CWF community colleges found remarkable consistency in student outcomes, including improved retention rates for CWF students. In fact, the majority of participating colleges report a more than 80 percent rate of term to term retention, a rate that far exceeds general student populations.

By bundling and sequencing services in the three CWF pillars, students are better equipped to define their own educational and financial goals and then create plans to achieve them. Students report that they feel more connected to college, more easily able to figure out where to find assistance for both academic and non-academic issues. Further, they are gaining access to public benefits, financial aid, and other financial assistance, as well as services from community partners, which can be critical to keeping many students enrolled.

See how two community colleges explain their integrated services programs to students:
— CNM Connect at Central New Mexico Community College
— Sparkpoint at Skyline College

See a short preview of community college presidents discussing the implementation of the Centers for Working Families model on their campuses to support student success and retention. For a full-length version of the panel discussion, click here.

Headquartered in Durham, N.C., MDC focuses on defining gaps and mobilizing leaders to create a will for change, demonstrating sustainable solutions and developing them into effective models, and incubating these models so they can be replicated at scale for maximum impact.

MDC’s current work includes improving student success rates at community colleges, helping disconnected 16- to 25-year-olds find education and training, connecting low-wage workers with career pathways and work support benefits, focusing the priorities of community philanthropy, and helping communities improve capacity to advance equity. To learn more, check out this video


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Center for Working Families at Community Colleges

A detailed examination of the experience of 10 community colleges that have implemented the Centers for Working Families model, this 77-page report by MDC examines ISD in the context of community colleges and their students, including specific examples from the 10 schools.