August 21, 2019 | Bringing It #22: Programs You Should Know About and Books You Should Read

Dear friends,

You may have seen our AAC&U-sponsored email blast, sharing a special offer on BTtoP’s publications. For a limited time, we are making our six books, designed for use by educators, administrators, and higher education professionals, available for free through our partners at AAC&U – you pay shipping costs only. This offer includes bulk orders for those who would like to order multiple copies for distribution to committees, faculty members, students, and/or community members. 

Since our first announcement two weeks ago, we’ve gotten more than a thousand orders. We hope that you’ll add your name to that list. We are proud of these books, and we hope that you and your colleagues will find ways to use them. To learn more and to order, please visit here

Great Colleges Network Institute 

In the first days of August, David attended the Summer Institute of the Great Colleges for the New Majority Network (GCNM), hosted this year by Johnson C. Smith University, an HBCU in Charlotte, North Carolina. We’ve mentioned GCNM before: it’s a small-but-mighty network of some of the best adult-serving four-year and completion programs in the U.S. As laid out in its Mission Statement, GCNM is committed to holistic, transformative education for nontraditional undergraduates (and as a result, its member programs boast unusually high levels of student success).

This was the fourth Summer Institute that David has attended. This year was especially exciting for the screening of a remarkable new documentary, Unlikely, which follows the lives of five nontraditional students confronting a higher-ed system in which they are too often marginalized.  And it was inspiring to meet graduates of Johnson C. Smith’s adult-serving Metropolitan College, who were eloquent in their praise of Smith’s culture of student-centeredness and care. “Coming here helped me to be me,” one alumna said. “To be a big me. I would not have met me if I hadn’t been a student here.”

Such a joy to hear those words.

Learning From Our Friends: The Community Learning Partnership 

The Community Learning Partnership (CLP) is a national network focusing solely on the unacceptable shortage of leadership positions held by people of color and people from low-income and working-class backgrounds. CLP brings together community colleges, public universities, and  grassroots and youth organizations to design and teach degree and certificate programs. Through coursework and on-the-ground experience, students develop the knowledge and practical skills they’ll need to bring about positive change in public policies and in their communities, especially surrounding the issues of poverty, injustice, and opportunity.

CLP now has 14 programs underway in sites stretching from New York City, Philadelphia, Mississippi, Los Angeles, and San Jose. Over 80 percent of CLP’s students are people of color, over 75 percent from low-income backgrounds – giving them essential life experience and a unique commitment to bringing about positive change in communities like their own. 

CLP’s goal is to work with national and regional partners to graduate 5000 “community change agents” by 2023.  A key strategy for reaching this goal includes:  (1) laying the groundwork for a major federal initiative in 2021, and (2) creating pilots for that initiative in four states where CLP and its local partners are advocating for “Community Building Internships” – providing employment with good pay and benefits, intensive on the job training, and academic courses and credentials to lower-income students who are preparing for careers in community change work. 

Both the Great Colleges Network and the Community Learning Partnership underscore the very real support that innovative programs, institutions, and associations are giving to adult, low-income, and other marginalized students. These networks may still be modest in scale, but they point the way to an academy that is fulfilling, more and more, its commitment to equity and empowerment. Bravo.

With thanks for the work you do,

Mercedes, Caitlin, and David