The Center for Working Families (CWF) approach at community colleges brings together access to a full range of essential economic supports in a convenient location to help families build self-sufficiency, stabilize their finances, and move ahead. The CWF approach is especially important for low-income students who face financial hurdles. Many simply cannot afford to stay in school--whether it is because continuing would mean giving up employment, paying the bills, or responding to a crisis. And too often, the financial assistance that is available often is difficult to access—it is located in multiple places at the college, or in many cases may not be offered at all. 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.
MDC manages a national network of colleges that integrate training, income supports, and financial services for low-income students. With the support of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and other funding agencies, community colleges in the network receive a variety of services and opportunities aimed at increasing their programs' effectiveness. Members in the network receive technical assistance from both MDC and college leaders on how to implement the CWF approach and how to expand specialized services. Member colleges participate in an active learning network of institutions that visit fellow CWF colleges, gather at an annual convening, and exchange information through regular discussion groups and webinars.