Campus Compact, a national coalition of colleges and universities committed to advancing the public purposes of colleges and universities, has announced it has now secured the required funding and leadership to advance planning for a new national service program, College Renaissance Corps (CRCorps). CRCorps is aimed at engaging community college students enrolled in high-demand industry programs as near-peer recruiters and ambassadors for educational and training opportunities at community colleges.
CRCorps builds off AmeriCorps’ mission of providing critical services to enhance educational and economic mobility in historically underserved and economically disadvantaged communities. In creating the program, the Compact sees an opportunity to leverage the important role that community colleges play in economic and workforce advancement while also advancing the economic, social, and civic health of local communities.
“The Compact has long recognized the power of civic engagement to address key priorities such as college readiness, access, retention, and degree attainment as strategies for economic and social mobility,” said Bobbie Laur, president of Campus Compact. CRCorps will build on that legacy with a focus on working with our community colleges to uplift student voices, prepare civic professionals, and produce critical talent for high-demand sectors.”
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and universities grappled with enrollment declines that present significant challenges to industry and the economy. Decreasing enrollment trends at community colleges have further exacerbated workforce shortages in industries poised to shape inclusive economic recovery. Despite the trend, business, civic, and legislative leaders believe community colleges are key to fueling a next-generation workforce in areas like transportation, distribution and logistics, advanced manufacturing, and technology.
To date, Campus Compact has secured funding to initiate the planning stages of CRCorps. The One Star Foundation has confirmed funding to develop work in partnership with the Houston Community College (HCC) System in Texas and Serve Colorado will fund planning with Arapahoe Community College and Community College of Denver in Colorado.
“HCC Southeast’s Center of Excellence in Smart Manufacturing and Logistics is poised to meet the Houston region’s critical talent needs,” says Dr. Frances Villagran-Glover, president of the College. “We’re excited to develop this new partnership with Campus Compact and the One Star Foundation to help our exceptional students tell powerful stories about their experiences with us.”
In a joint statement, Dr. Stephanie Fujii, president of the Arapahoe Community College, and Dr. Marielena DeSantis, president of the Community College of Denver, said, “AmeriCorps Service Programs have inspired millions of students to pursue and enroll at colleges and universities. Developing a new Service Corps focused explicitly on community college education programs at this critical juncture presents a unique opportunity for Coloradans who are struggling to engage fully in our rebounding economy. We’re pleased to serve as planning partners in this early stage of the work.”
CRCorps will engage community college students enrolled in industry-based certification and degree programs to serve as part-time and full-time AmeriCorps members. During their term of service, CRCorps members will act as near-peer ambassadors who engage individuals in-person and through digital story-telling as a way of educating prospective students about the educational and professional opportunities available to them with a community college degree.
To lead this effort, Campus Compact has hired Eric Lugo to serve as CRCorps national director. Eric will oversee the strategy and planning process, and lead a team of coordinators placed locally in the planning grant cities. Eric currently serves as a Senior Advisor at City Colleges of Chicago, Illinois’ largest community college system, where he consults on innovation and economic mobility efforts. Eric previously served City Colleges as Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief of Staff, prior to returning in early 2022. He’s held roles at the University of Illinois, JPMorgan Chase & Co., and Instituto del Progreso Latino in Chicago. Eric is also an AmeriCorps alumnus.
“As the son of a community college graduate, I’ve experienced firsthand the power and potential of our nation’s most accessible path to college,” said Eric. “It’s a privilege to partner with the Compact and this community of innovative college leaders to advance an agenda that showcases the brilliance of their students and mobilizes them to inspire others just like them. I look forward to jumpstarting work in Houston and Denver, and expect we’ll be bringing this work to Chicago and other cities in the near future.”
In addition, Campus Compact is launching a CRCorps National Advisory Board comprised of business, philanthropic, civic, and social impact experts. Eric and the Campus Compact team will work with their local partners and the CRCorps National Advisory Board to develop CRCorps operational, fundraising and advocacy strategy—all key to successfully launching and scaling the ambitious program.
CRCorps National Advisory Board Members:
- Mara Botman, Executive Director, Vivo Foundation
- Michelle Burris, Fellow, Century Foundation
- Michael Chiappetta, Director, Chicago Market Development, Accenture
- Shauna Davis, Strategy Director, Community College, Lumina Foundation
- Barbara Endel, Senior Advisor, Jobs for the Future
- Matt Farley, Director of Administration and AmeriCorps Programs, Campus Compact
- Brian Finch, Vice President, Sustainability & Center for Inclusive Growth, Mastercard
- Olga Gutierrez, Education Program Manager, Apple
- Meralis Hood, Market President, City Year
- Bobbie Laur, President, Campus Compact
- Chauncy Lennon, Vice President of Learning and Work, Lumina Foundation
- Iris Palmer, Deputy Director, New America
- Jason Quiara, Head of Strategy & Partnerships, ConnectED
- Nicole Reaves, Executive Vice President & Chief Program Officer, Wake Tech Community College
- Karla Shields, Associate Director, Global Workforce Strategy & Operations, Cognizant
- Joel Simon, Vice President, Workforce Strategies, EMSI Burning Glass
- Andrew Stettner, Senior Fellow, Century Foundation
To learn more about CRCorps, visit compact.org/current-programs/americorps/college-renaissance-corps.