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Providing Access to All Learners

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Learner Supports to Enhance Access

Providing Access to All Learners

Learner Supports to Enhance Access

Incremental credentials as a tool for increasing DEI can be enhanced by providing targeted support services to diverse learners. Such services as integrated academic and career advising, financial aid assistance and wrap around services can increase learner success.

The Attainment for All: Equity in Postsecondary Pathways explore the challenges and innovative practices involved when colleges offer wraparound services. The goal is to provide holistic support to students from low-income families, who are first-generation, nontraditional, and students of color. Such services provide academic, health, socio-emotional, familial, financial, and logistical support. The briefs share examples of major issues that wraparound services help to address, including lack of flexibility in financial aid, housing insecurity, transportation challenges, mental health issues, and difficulties in balancing work and academics.

The City University of New York (CUNY)’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) nearly doubled graduation rates for participants after three years, and after six years ASAP participants continued to have higher rates of completion and shorter time to degree. ASAP provides a host of wraparound services for participating students. The program removes financial barriers for students through scholarships, and by offering financial assistance for transportation and the cost of textbooks. Students meet with experienced academic advisors regularly to receive comprehensive academic, social, and personal support. They also meet with career specialists to develop career goals and competencies.

Other examples include the University of Rhode Island, which offers financial assistance to eligible undergraduate student parents. Belmont University provides faculty, staff, and students with access to food pantries, meal share options, and self-guided tools and modules that support their mental health. North Carolina State University offers funding so that food-insecure students can access the university’s meal plan. North Carolina Community College Childcare Grant Program provides up to $24 per day to assist learner-parents with child care expenses while enrolled.

By partnering with government programs and agencies, such as the Department of Veterans Affairs, institutions can increase the likelihood that learners take advantage of the benefits available to them. Additionally, for qualifying students and their families, assistance from programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can help eliminate barriers to success in pursuing postsecondary credentials. Some Head Start programs have dedicated partnerships with colleges, offering high-quality child care and other resources to income-eligible families. The National Skills Coalition’s Career Pathways SNAP E&T Project works with five states— Arizona, Connecticut, Michigan, New Mexico, and Virginia—to leverage the SNAP E&T program. The program works to increase postsecondary enrollment and completion, provide supportive services, connect students to quality jobs that offer economic mobility, and meet the needs of local employers.

See Credential As You Go’s Learner Supports Playbook for a more detailed discussion of employing support services and resources to improve learner outcomes of incremental credentialing programs.

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Improving Education and Employment Outcomes