- The CWF approach in community colleges builds on existing training and career services while adding new income and financial supports including: financial literacy classes; access to public benefits; financial coaching; and matched savings programs. CWFs seek to provide this wide range of services at one convenient, college-based location.
- This makes it easier for families to tap into all of the services and supports for which they qualify, filling in the gaps and helping them weather unexpected setbacks that can prevent students and their families from meeting their economic and educational goals.
- CWFs reach students where they are by responding to multiple economic challenges. The approach combines what community colleges do so well—provide individuals with training that connects them to dynamic careers—with the financial support necessary to complete education and connect with a career path.
In November 2011, MDC held an Annual Convening of the network at Des Moines Area Community College. All 10 member colleges participated, along with 10 additional institutions interested in beginning to implement the CWF approach. A documentation study is also under way and yielding initial findings of the different ways that colleges implement the CWF approach. A few initial highlights of the study:
- At Central New Mexico Community College, CWF Participants had a 61 percent chance of achieving a short-term economic indicator such as receiving a scholarship or staying in school, compared to 16 percent for clients who did not.
- Des Moines Area Technical College participants in the CWF boast an 80 percent retention rate, far surpassing the college's overall rate.
- At Southeast Arkansas, the college's CWF helps students with child care referrals and access to vouchers to pay for the service, meaning more young children are receiving quality care while their parents pursue their educational goals.