Completion rates for low-income Black and Latinx students enrolled in Connecticut’s two-year public colleges were already low before COVID-19 hit, and the pandemic has exacerbated the challenges they face.
The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving is helping out some of those students through grants it has awarded to five community colleges.
The Foundation’s Megan Burke said some students began asking for laptops and assistance with internet access. Others were having a hard time making ends meet.
“In many cases, students lost employment and other means to kind of support themselves while they continued their studies,” said Burke.
The grants will increase access to technology and peer mentoring and offer small stipends for students to replace lost income.
The pandemic has also interrupted classes for students behind bars. Asnuntuck Community College will use part of its grant to purchase and lend laptops to students on campus. Teresa Foley, interim dean of academic affairs, said part of the funds also will support programs offered to incarcerated students in manufacturing, human services and business administration.
“In the spring, when the pandemic hit, we had 199 students enrolled in the program, and it was suspended once we had to leave the facilities,” she said.
The grant will help equip classrooms with technology for better access to remote learning within the prison system.
Manchester Community College will use its funds to support enrolled students with peer mentoring and coaching. Director of Development Diana Reid said that for many working students mentors can make a huge difference in their lives.
“Peer mentors can provide good advice for them both in how to navigate through community college and beyond,” said Reid.
All grants are due to support students in the 2021 spring semester.
Brenda León is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.