Patrick & Henry Community College announced the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV) awarded the agency $70,000 to launch a new initiative intended to address stop-out rates of at-risk minority populations.
The project’s funding comes through the Collaborative Equitable-Attainment Grant offered by SCHEV. With the funding, P&HCC will partner with Ferrum College to implement a pilot intervention strategy to help African American males stay in college. Both institutions will hire dedicated personnel to connect at-risk students with resources like tutoring, an on-campus food pantry, scholarships for emergency or school-related expenses, mental health counseling, and more.
“We are excited to be collaborating with Ferrum College in such critical work. Our students have made that big first step—they’ve enrolled in college. Oftentimes, life happens in ways that make it hard to stay the course—especially for populations considered ‘at-risk,’ said Terry Young, P&HCC’s Interim Vice President of Academic and Student Success Services. “This funding will help further equip us to come alongside these students and provide them with the assistance and the resources they need when life happens.”
At P&HCC, earlier work with similar intervention strategies produced a 30 percent increase in completion rates for students in two-year programs. Ferrum College also saw increases in retention after implementing early alert systems that identified at-risk students. However, from this prior work, the colleges discovered the need to bridge the gap between identifying at-risk students and ensuring that these students obtain and utilize the available resources. That is where dedicated personnel will come in. If this pilot proves effective, both campuses plan to expand the pilot to other at-risk student groups in order to continue to address attainment gaps among the two student bodies.
“Right now, both of our institutions have many students who are struggling to reach the finish line. With the help of this grant, we will soon see these students walk across that graduation stage,” said David Wiggins Ferrum’s Dean of Student Success/Director of the Carter Center for Academic Success. “Yes, we want to see the statistics change –African American males are statically underrepresented in college attainment and over-represented in college dropout rates. We’re poised to turn that on its head. But, ultimately, it’s about each individual student and each life that will be radically changed with the degree they will earn.”