The national expansion of the Working Students Success Network (WSSN) strategy supports 16 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:
- Education and employment advancement— education, job readiness, training, and placement;
- Income and work supports— access to student financial aid, public benefits, tax credits, and free tax assistance; and
- 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 WFSN strategy into existing student-success efforts and workforce focused innovations and best practices.
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.
Links to WSSN