Educational Partnership Program Supports Students

multi-colored paper, one of which reads we can help
Rebecca A. Eckland

Are you a student who feels like you are facing not just one or two challenges, but several that are preventing you from pursuing your education or future career? If so, TMCC has a one-stop-shop for you to discover what supports you qualify for through the newly-formed Educational Partnership Programs.  

“The pandemic has forced people to look at their employment and retraining options because their industries have shrunk quite a bit...and we wanted to help students to get the support they need so that they can be successful,” said Joan Steinman, Executive Director of Retention and Support Programs. “Before the Educational Partnership Program, there wasn’t really a good place for students or our community partners to look and see all the support we offer. This new program enabled us to pull it all together in a way that made sense, because success really is a partnership between the student and the school, and oftentimes it includes our community partners as well.”

The goal of Educational Partnership Programs is to help prospective, returning or continuing students overcome the barriers they face that are keeping them from achieving their goals. Formerly named the TMCC Re-Entry Center, this new program will continue a thirty-year legacy of matching students to the resources for which they qualify. “The Re-Entry Center has been around for 30 years, so we have generations of families who have worked with our staff, and who have been here from the beginning,” said Steinman, who said the re-branding was not only a reorganization of resources, but also to encourage a wider population of prospective and current students to seek out the Educational Partnership Programs for support. 

“We’re not just working with people who are ‘re-entering,’” said Camille Vega, Educational Partnership Programs Coordinator. “We can certainly provide services for people who are already working and/or already going to school. So when they hear ‘re-entry,’ it’s like: well, what if I’m already working? And what if I’m already going to school? So we wanted to move away from that idea that ‘if you’re already here, we won’t help you’—because we do help students who are already students, and we do help people who already have a job.”

Some of the unique student populations that can find support and resources, which include displaced homemakers, those who have been justice-involved, Perkins Educational Partnerships and those who receive food stamps and/or public assistance. The page also includes links to the Disability Resource Center (DRC), Jacobs, TRIO Student Support Services and the Veterans Services Office. 

“The new Educational Partnership Programs helps us to provide students with all these resources when we have limited resources on campus. We can maximize what we can offer,” said Vega. 

While the resources TMCC staff can connect you with are many and varied, two you may want to consider if you face multiple barriers to your educational and professional development are the SNAP and Getting Ahead Programs. 

SNAP Can Open Doors

The Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) is intended to help those who are food-insecure and with low-incomes to obtain healthy food. Given the demands of completing a degree or certificate program, accomplishing that on an empty stomach is, well, nearly impossible. And given recent legislation that opened SNAP benefits beyond those who are currently employed, students can now take advantage of this additional support. 

“One of our partnerships is with the SNAP office,” said Vega. “In order to get these benefits you traditionally had to be working. But because of the pandemic, they are now allowing those who are only students and not working to get SNAP benefits until the pandemic order is lifted.”

In order to qualify for SNAP, students will also need to be Pell-eligible. 

“The beauty of SNAP is that it’s food assistance, which helps to meet those basic needs. But that also opens the door for potentially other resources that can lead to as well,” said Steinman. “It’s another form of financial aid. It’s another way to support their college ambitions. SNAP is a really great resource.”

Getting Ahead

The Educational Partnership Programs can also provide students with access to the Getting Ahead Program. This 16-week targeted program addresses issues students face when they do not have the financial and other support resources they need. 

“This program is really for students in under-resourced environments,” said Steinman. “A lot of times when people live in an under-resourced environment, their attention is based very much on the here and now. As in ‘how do I meet my basic needs this very second?’ And sometimes decisions that make sense in the moment…. [but] in the long run, they aren’t very good ideas. The Getting Ahead Program helps students to change that mindset.” 

In addition to helping students not just survive, but thrive, the program also helps program staff to test the efficacy of their ability to help these students. “It helps us to identify our barriers—like how we offer our resources, our services, how we phrase things to students, and how we help students to connect in a way that helps make sense to them.” 

Students who complete the 16-week program are eligible for a $320 scholarship. 

Helping Students Succeed

The Educational Partnership Programs joins a long legacy of offering students support when they are faced by extra barriers that can accumulate across the course of a lifetime. Steinman and Vega remarked that some of the students they help are the children and grandchildren of TMCC alumni who, through these additional supports, were able to complete a college degree or certificate program. 

“Sometimes it’s easy to think we’re only helping that one student, but it’s really like generations and everyone who is around them,” said Vega, who, in addition to connecting students to these resources also teaches students self-sufficiency so that by the end of their time at TMCC, they know how to be advocates for their own success. 

“I’m really excited about this new way of organizing our resources for students,” said Steinman. “I think it will really help not just students looking for help, but for the community agencies that help people, too. They can go [to the website] and see much of what TMCC is able to do to help students.”

For more information about the Educational Partnership Programs, contact the program at 775-673-7060.