AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Across the nation, Amarillo College is becoming an example of how to address poverty issues within its student population.
“Because we found that when we have changed our culture and helping students in different ways than traditionally we’ve approached higher ed, we increase our success," said Cara Crowley, the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Amarillo College. "So, they are graduating, and they are transferring at higher rates by providing social workers on campus, changing to eight-week classes, putting professional development into our development series. All of these changed our approach to higher ed.”
This years AC’s Poverty Summit is twice the size of last years. Over 150 representatives from 60 colleges, universities and institutions are in Amarillo to learn about AC’s strategies.
“One of the things that Amarillo College has really become known for nationally is our approach to higher ed. It is really kind of radically different than other institutions. And, we believe in a culture of caring which is really just loving your students to success. We focus on love and support them first,” said Crowley.
AC has implemented a variety of programs to help students in poverty achieve.
“About 30 percent of our students, and we have 10,000 students, go to our advocacy and resource center each semester to receive assistance in social services, food pantry, clothing closet. And, really what it is, is those are socio-economic barriers, and no person should have a barrier in life that prevents them from education,” said Crowley.
As part of breaking down barriers, AC created a counseling center, a legal aid center an employment center, and a child care center.
“We are tremendously committed to the very important goal at McLennan Community College of addressing the highest needs," said Chad Eggleston the dean of arts and sciences at McLennan Community College. "We, like Amarillo, will not make excuses and to make sure that they provide their students with everything they need to succeed, and we believe Amarillo’s example has been a wonderful one, and we have learned a great deal.”
Since incorporating its No Excuses Poverty Initiative, AC has steadily increased graduation rates.