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Amarillo College hosting No Excuses Poverty Initiative Summit

By Joe Wyatt

Amarillo College has become a national leader in removing barriers of poverty that impede student success, and other colleges and universities have not only taken note, many are turning to AC this spring to learn more about what works.

Representatives from colleges and universities in 14 states – from Alabama to Washington – have registered to attend AC’s No Excuses Poverty Initiative Summit, set for June 11-12 on the Washington Street Campus.

The two-day summit will largely focus on AC’s No Excuses Poverty Initiative, which earned national acclaim in 2017 by garnering a prestigious Bellwether Award at the National Policy Summit and Futures Assembly in Orlando, Fla.

“It is an honor to showcase the work we are doing to break down barriers between poverty and education,” Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, president of Amarillo College, said. “In striving to increase educational access and simultaneously strengthen our community, the faculty and staff here have positioned the College as a national leader.

“That our poverty initiative could be honored with a Bellwether Award and become a blueprint for other colleges to adopt is incredibly gratifying and buoys our hopes of making higher education more attainable for everyone.”

Keynote speaker for the summit will be Clare Cady, co-founder of the College and University Food Bank Alliance. Cady and scholar-activist Dr. Sara Goldrick-Rab together conducted a case study of AC’s poverty initiative, a project funded by the Trellis Foundation.

Cady will present their findings at the summit and discuss how AC’s poverty initiative has helped markedly increase student success and completion rates.

AC’s poverty initiative has five primary components: Social Services, Food Pantry, Mentoring Program, Career and Employment Services, and Predictive Modeling of student success.

Poverty summit sessions will be conducted on the second floor of the College Union Building and will commence at 8:30 a.m. Monday, June 11 with Cady’s address. Additional sessions on tap, among many others, are: “Building Your Advocacy and Resource Center,” “Creating a Systemic Approach to Eradicating Poverty Barriers” and “Focusing on Data to Remove Poverty Barriers.”

The summit will also offer an in-depth look at how AC developed a College-wide, 8-week course model that has significantly increased success rates, elevated degree/certificate attainment, and helped transition 14 percent of students from part-time to full-time status.

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