We were happy to find out that The Bank of America has awarded $50,000 to the Norwalk-based Fairfield County Community Foundation's Fund for Women and Girls to provide working parents who are students at Norwalk Community College with career coaching, financial literacy training and direct financial assistance.
The grant will help more than 250 students and expand the Family Economic Security Program, an initiative created by the foundation's Fund for Women and Girls, the Norwalk Community College Foundation and Norwalk Community College.
The Family Economic Security Program is a five-year, $2 million working families initiative designed to help low and medium-wage students with dependents receive tuition assistance, career guidance, achievement coaching, personal financial guidance and financial assistance for childcare and transportation.
The program is designed to help students complete their associate degree, transfer to a four-year college and earn a bachelor's degree, then enter careers that pay a family-sustaining salary.
It is nice to see FCCF and NCC being recognized for being so engaged in improving the health and vitality of their neighborhoods.
It comes on the heels of NCC earning a place on a list of honor on the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's 2010 Community Engagement Classification.
Colleges and universities with an institutional focus on community engagement were invited to apply for the classification, first offered in 2006 as part of an extensive restructuring of The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is an independent policy and research center that supports needed transformations in American education through tighter connections between teaching practice, evidence of student learning, the communication and use of this evidence and structured opportunities to build knowledge.
The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education continues to be used for a wide range of purposes by academic researchers, institutional personnel, policymakers and others.
We are proud that NCC is the first community college in Connecticut to be recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for its community engagement efforts.
To be considered, institutions submitted documentation describing the nature and extent of their engagement with the community, be it local or beyond. Of the 350 colleges and universities to apply for the classification, 115 were chosen and only six were community colleges.
"NCC takes its middle name very seriously. By actively partnering with the community to meet community-identified needs, our faculty, staff and students are able to leverage both public and private resources to the benefit of children, families and seniors in Fairfield County," said NCC Dean of Academic Affairs Pamela Edington in a statement.
And Norwalk is certainly lucky that it does.
In case you didn't know, here are some of the way NCC establishes meaningful connections with our community:
"¢ Each year, several hundred NCC students provide thousands of hours of service to community organizations through service learning in academic coursework and volunteer activities organized by student clubs.
"¢ The college honor society, Phi Theta Kappa, is heavily involved in community service activities. Students raise awareness and funds for the Relay for Life, AIDS Walk, Heart Walk, Better World books and Haiti Relief. They also hold an annual clean-up of the Norwalk River.
"¢ Over the past 35 years, NCC archaeology faculty and students have worked on more than 200 community digs for local historical societies and museums.
"¢ The Fairfield County Women's Center at NCC offers programming, support and referral services for students and community members seeking assistance.
"¢ The NCC Committee for Active and Responsible Environmental Sustainability (NCC C.A.R.E.S) is leading efforts to reduce the college's carbon footprint. On behalf of the college, NCC President David Levinson signed the American College and University Presidents Climate Change Commitment, a pledge affirming the institution's commitment to becoming a sustainable institution.
"¢ Since 2008, NCC has partnered with the Family and Children's Agency in Norwalk to offer an after school program for middle school children on the NCC campus.
"¢ Since 2005, the college has collaborated with the local alternative high school to provide space and programming for young adults at risk of dropping out of secondary education.
"¢ NCC in partnership with Norwalk Economic Opportunity Now (NEON), the Greater Norwalk Chamber of Commerce, local health care providers, state representatives, teachers, administrators and after-school providers, has held Community Conversations focusing on the economy, education and healthcare reform.
"¢ In 2009-10 the college coordinated 19 private, state and federal grants totaling nearly $10 million dollars, which helped to reduce the achievement gap for under-represented populations, expand community-based job training, build the allied health workforce and enhance initiatives related to ESL coursework, hospital partnerships, school readiness, renewable energy and school to career preparation.
Keep up the good work.