Working Students Success Network

Project Update

Working Student Success Network (WSSN) colleges are beginning the third year of developing and offering integrated services that help students move up the economic ladder.  Participating colleges continue to focus on helping students develop and follow achievable career plans, tap into all available resources to improve students’ financial stability while they pursue their education, and access financial services and learn to build assets.

As colleges think about sustainability, however, they’re beginning to think about the kind of cultural change that would make WSSN services simply the services colleges offer to all students, regardless of their financial status. Some possible indicators of this kind of cultural change were raised at the California colleges’ meeting. They include behaviors and events such as:

  • Respect for cultural and socioeconomic diversity reflected consistently across campus.
  • Increased capacity for reporting the sequencing, stacking and/or bundling of services.
  • A clearly defined equity vision statement and documenting of progress toward equity goals.
  • Campus events that promote WSSN services.
  • Faculty reinforce the utilization of services.

Further conversations about cultural change that supports the WSSN approach will continue over the coming year.


Project Description

The national expansion of the Working Students Success Network (WSSN) strategy supports 19 community colleges in four states as they create pathways and provide integrated services that prepare low-income students for jobs with family-sustaining wages. WSSN strategy was developed to help low-income people reach financial stability and move up the economic ladder by promoting an innovative framework that strategically integrates and bundles three distinct but related services:

  1. Education and employment advancement— education, job readiness, training, and placement;
  2. Income and work supports— access to student financial aid, public benefits, tax credits, and free tax assistance; and
  3. Financial services and asset building— financial education and coaching linked to affordable products and services to help families build self-sufficiency, stabilize their finances, and become more economically competitive.

This work is grounded in the belief that achieving a postsecondary credential is the best way to end intergenerational poverty and, thus, the ultimate goal of the community college expansion is to make it easier for low-income students to balance work, family, and education/professional aspirations. The expansion focuses on systems change through college culture and operations in order to support student success and ultimately family economic success. Colleges will do this by building upon and integrating the WSSN strategy into existing student-success efforts and workforce focused innovations and best practices.  View Helping Community College Students Achieve Financial Stability.

This effort is supported with funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Lumina Foundation, MetLife Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. 

The community college expansion of the WSSN strategy seeks to demonstrate that embedding the WSSN strategy in college culture and systems can be cost effective and has the potential to bring about institutional change that leads to significant improvement in outcomes for low income students. The long term goal is to change the way community colleges operate so that low income students routinely and systematically receive the services that evidence suggests make a difference in whether a student thrives or languishes.  

Participating WSSN Colleges and State Partner Organizations

ARKANSAS CONSORTIUM

CALIFORNIA CONSORTIUM

VIRGINIA CONSORTIUM

WASHINGTON CONSORTIUM

 

Initiative Files

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