The Concerns Keeping Community College Leaders Up At Night

Declining enrollment, high dropout rates, and decreased state funding are creating a perfect storm of economic challenges that are alarming to community college leaders across the country. Since 2021 community college enrollment has fallen by more than 1 million students and 40% of all community college students drop out after their first year.

Many community college leaders are left scratching their heads trying to figure out why this is happening and how to stop – and reverse – these trends.

A recent study conducted by the on-line journal The Conversation surveyed over 27,000 community college students who failed to complete their degree, the most often mentioned reasons are:

  1. Financial Challenges, especially the cost of textbooks.
  2. Childcare issues. One out of every five college student is a parent. Among those that dropped out, a full 33% said it was because of problems with childcare and family obligations.
  3. Unexpected financial hardships due to health care, food insecurity, or transportation were mentioned by almost 50% of the survey respondents.
  4. Low grades leading to loss of financial aid were named by 43% of survey responders as the primary reason they left.

All of this is occurring amidst a workforce crisis that leaves has many employers hungrier for Community College graduates than any time in recent history. Community and Technical Colleges may be better positioned than any other institutions to meet near term employment demands, but the crucial first step is removing or addressing the student barriers.

How can fundraising efforts buck these trends? Recent Convergent-run campaigns at community colleges have raised millions of dollars for areas such as:

  • Student opportunity funds which provide sources of support (beyond scholarships and free tuition programs) to help students address any financial emergency such as textbooks, childcare, transportation etc.
  • Investments in student support services such as tutoring, mentoring, financial literacy, academic support and advising efforts, which provide those wrap-around services needed for many students to improve their grades and stay in school.
  • Early college, dual enrollment, career coaches and summer bridge programs as a means to connect high school students into community colleges.

Fundraising campaigns aren’t always about “bricks and mortar” and Convergent Nonprofit Solutions is pioneering campaigns that are laser focused on raising funds to address systemic issues in enrollment and retention. Oh, and also helping community college leaders sleep better at night.

Convergent’s Investment Driven Model for fundraising helps to clarify and communicate the real economic value proposition community colleges – or any other nonprofit – provide to their local communities, and to the companies and other organizations that can help fund the outcomes (work-ready graduates, in this case) they deliver. And increased clarity on investable outcomes means increased funding to deliver them.

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