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Holistic Student Supports

Making a Difference in Mississippi: Updates on Four ATD Network Colleges

| Elizabeth Fischer

Research & Reports
June 23, 2023

There are 15 community colleges in Mississippi, which together serve more than half the undergraduates enrolled in the state’s public institutions. According to the 2020 Mississippi Community College Board Annual Report, the state has the oldest community college system in the United States, dating back to the 1920s. From all regions of Mississippi, community colleges offer degrees and certificates in over 142 different career and technical programs that range from short-term to two years in length. In 2022, 15,508 graduates earned 18,831 awards from community colleges and 11,000 students with bachelor’s degrees attended community colleges for occupational skills development in an average year.

To keep up with growing workforce demands, the United States Economic Development Administration awarded two grants to the Magnolia State to build workforce training centers. Mississippi has invested $50 million in creating jobs and providing training since 2016. Workforce training development centers train students in their local communities, and over 2,000 apprentices are registered through the Mississippi Apprenticeship Program (MAP). A comprehensive wraparound program, MAP collaborates closely with companies to identify occupations and skill sets needed on their job sites.

Former Mississippi Governor William Winter said, “The road out of poverty runs by the schoolhouse.” Mississippi community colleges are remarkable vehicles for achieving the dream of higher education and driving economic growth. Leaders at the state level understand that it is essential to support community colleges to build a strong workforce and narrow the income inequality gap. Subsequently, Mississippi community colleges recognize the importance of supporting their students. By enrolling, retaining, and graduating students, and providing upskilling in economically crucial fields such as health care, tech, and green energy service industries, community colleges can simultaneously increase their student base, add to their region’s workforce, and improve living conditions for individuals in surrounding communities.

Resilient and robust, the Mississippi Achieving the Dream (ATD) Network colleges — Coahoma Community College, East Mississippi Community College, Meridian Community College, and Northwest Mississippi Community College — have strong working relationships with their students and their communities, and ATD is helping them grow even stronger by supporting them in building capacity to collect and use data and in redesigning advising and support services to better meet student needs.

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