The Working Families Success Network (WFSN) approach (formerly known as Centers for Working Families) at community colleges offers access to a range of essential economic supports in one convenient location to help families build self-sufficiency, stabilize their finances, and move ahead.
 
The WFSN 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 is difficult to access—located in multiple places at the college or not offered at all.
 

Overview

WFSN programs 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 WFSN–National Leadership Group, community colleges in the network receive a variety of services and opportunities aimed at increasing their programs' effectiveness.
 
Network members are located in:
  • Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • High Point, N.C.
  • Helena-West Helena, Ark.
  • San Bruno, Calif.
  • New Haven, Conn.
  • Norwalk, Conn.
  • Malvern, Ark.
  • Little Rock, Ark.
  • Pine Bluff, Ark.
Members  receive technical assistance from MDC, community-based organizations, and college leaders on how to implement the WFSN approach and how to expand specialized services. Member colleges participate in an active learning network of institutions that visit fellow WFSN colleges, gather at learning events, and exchange information through regular discussion groups and webinars. 
 
The WFSN strategy permeates several strands of our work at MDC, including:
 
  • Integrated Service Delivery (ISD) Collaborative - a partnership between LISC, MDC, and United Way Worldwide (UWW) to assist low-income working families in achieving economic security through the seamless delivery of services and supports.
  • Financial Empowerment Strategies for Student Success – a project focused on helping 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.

Impact

  • MDC developed an implementation guide and toolkit for the Working Families Success Network strategy at community colleges. The guide incorporates real examples and materials from the program’s learning network. 
  • A report from MDC examines the experiences of community colleges across the United States, ranging from California to Connecticut, which are implementing the WFSN approach to help low-income students attain financial stability and move up the economic ladder. 

GO DEEPER

For more information, contact Jenna Bryant or visit the The Working Families Success Strategy College Implementation Guide.