Building Capability report coverMDC, in partnership with Achieving the Dream and Bank of America Charitable Foundation, explored strategies that link financial capability training to student success.

The Financial Empowerment Strategies for Student Success project identified and helped grow effective practices for providing financial capability services (e.g., financial education, benefits access and/or work supports) to community college students with the goal of promoting financial empowerment and postsecondary completion.

Becoming financially capable is a critical step toward establishing financial security, particularly for lower-income, financially underserved students. By managing expenses, establishing long-term goals, and effectively navigating the financial products, services, and income supports available to them, students put themselves in a better position to stay in school, graduate on time, and establish healthy financial behaviors. In support of the nation's growing focus on service, we have a special interest in programs that effectively utilize or leverage volunteers to deliver these programs.

Under the Financial Empowerment Strategies for Student Success project, three colleges with pre-established financial capability building programs were selected to receive funding and technical assistance to help them refine and expand their programs. Technical assistance included both one-on-one coaching and peer-learning opportunities.

Toward the end of the project, MDC produce a learning paper that synthesized lessons learned and provided applicable tools and guidance on ways to implement sustainable financial education services.

MDC is also managing a learning network of community colleges interested in exploring financial capability programs that link to student success.


  • Providing technical assistance to three community colleges refining their efforts to increase community college students' financial knowledge and management skills and link these skills to increased student success.
  • Supporting peer learning for pilot colleges including connecting with existing financial capability programs such as the Center for Working Families community college network.
  • Producing a learning paper designed to inform other colleges interested in sustainably implementing financial education and helping disseminate the paper to other community colleges across the nation.


  • Coaching and technical assistance were provided to the three pilot community colleges: Los Angeles Harbor College, Community College of Baltimore County, and the Houston Community College System.
  • Learning activities were launched at the three pilot colleges and a wider learning network of community colleges that included a regular series of newsletters, seminars, and webinars.
  • Qualitative and quantitative data were gathered to create the learning paper that shared the experiences of participating colleges.with the wider community college community.