Campus Compact AmeriCorps Members Increase Access & Resources for Low-Income College Students

March 14, 2022

One of the ways that Campus Compact furthers the public purpose of education through AmeriCorps programming is to ensure that higher education is accessible and graduation is attainable for low-income college students. Not only is post-secondary success is a priority within AmeriCorps’ focus area of education, but improving educational outcomes for low-income students through connection to vital resources and services has benefits for campuses and communities alike. 

Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA programs within the Post-Secondary Education Support focus area target new project development in campuses with large concentrations of first-generation, low-income students. So far this year, over 1,700 economically disadvantaged college students have benefited from our program. While there are many examples, Ivette Mendoza’s service with Wheaton College provides a great example. 

Ivette Mendoza, Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA at Wheaton College, is building Wheaton’s capacity to increase academic success, persistence, and retention for first-generation, low-income students. In response to higher education challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ivette launched the Wheaton Student Support Emergency Fund to increase financial security among economically disadvantaged students. More than 150 students have applied for support to cover hidden costs associated with higher education. Ivette continues to improve the foundational pieces of the emergency fund such as the application language, marketing strategy, and committee review guidelines to increase student access and outreach. Additionally, Ivette collaborated with the Dean of Student Office and the First-Generation and Low-Income Task Force to increase student access to anti-hunger programs and resources and partnered with the Swipe Out Hunger Program to provide extra meal swipes to food insecure students. She has also partnered with the Office for Social Justice and Community Impact to develop a strategic plan for the expansion of Wheaton’s food pantry. Ivette created and submitted the food pantry proposal to the Dean of Student Office and other stakeholders and hopes to launch the pantry expansion this academic semester. According to Ivette, her experience in the Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA program has been “a very enlightening and informative experience” as she’s learned how to increase support and momentum for additional resources for students. 

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