SANFORD - For low-income students, a relatively small amount of money can mean the difference between a student obtaining a degree in a short amount of time or dropping out of school completely. A small financial setback can be insurmountable for students living in poverty, and many times, will force them to abandon their educational plans all together.
Thus, the Dreamkeeper Fund has been started at Central Carolina Community College to help those students with small, unmet needs that would cause them to drop out.
"Our students are dreaming of a bright future, but sometimes need a little extra help moving their dreams to reality," said Dr. Linda Scuiletti, Associate Vice President of Assessment, Planning & Research. "A recent national MDRC study found that the average amount needed to keep a student on track with this type of fund was $264," she said, adding that a small amount of money can mean the difference between a student completing a degree versus working in a lower-level job for the rest of his or her life.
"The Dreamkeeper Fund will assist us in 'closing the gap' for many of our students," said Emily Hare, Executive Director of the CCCC Foundation and a member of the Dreamkeeper Committee. "Not only will it help increase our retention rate, but it will also address small emergency needs of our students. Life happens and this fund will allow the college to go further at supporting our students and helping them achieve their educational dreams."
For 2014, CCCC data shows that the graduation rate for low-income students is more than 10 percentage points lower than their peers not facing poverty. While federal financial aid and scholarships offer some support for these students, there is a gap when it comes for unplanned and emergency financial hardships.
The Dreamkeeper Fund is tackling this gap by providing just-in-time completion grants for students nearing graduation who face potentially derailing financial hardships. Similar completion grants exist at colleges around the country, and like the Dreamkeeper Fund, focus on students who: (1) have genuine unmet financial need and have used all other sources of aid; (2) are on track for graduation in the next semester or year; and (3) have an outstanding financial gap that will require them to drop out.
To date, approximately $30,000 has been raised for the Dreamkeeper Fund. That includes major donations by the Arthur Carlsen Fund and from Pfizer.
Anyone interested in contributing to the Dreamkeeper Fund can contact Emily Hare, Executive Director of the CCCC Foundation, 919-718-7230 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Donations can also be made via the CCCC Foundation webpage at www.cccc.edu/foundation. Just indicate in the "Notes" section that you'd like your donation to go to the Dreamkeeper Fund.
The CCCC Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization affiliated with, but independent of, Central Carolina Community College. It receives donations of money and equipment on behalf of CCCC and uses them to promote the educational mission of the college and assist students through scholarships and grants.
Members of the CCCC Dreamkeeper Committee are Scuiletti; Hare; Meghan Brown, Director, Grants & Strategic Initiatives; Ken Hoyle, Vice President - Student Services; Tamara Joyner, Controller; Kelly Klug, Project Management Specialist; and Heather Willett, Dean, Student Support Services.
For more information on Central Carolina Community College, visit the website www.cccc.edu.