College Renaissance Corps: Leading the Nation in Workforce Development & Partnerships

College Renaissance Corps, Campus Compact’s new national leadership program, has kicked off at Houston Community College and begun expansion across the country.

College Renaissance Corps (CRCorps), Campus Compact’s new national leadership program, has kicked off at Houston Community College and begun expansion across the country. CRCorps addresses a critical need in the community college landscape—to extend and enhance workforce programs to underserved populations. The program empowers community college students to gain industry work experience by serving as Industry Ambassadors for their area of study. Industry Ambassadors work as near-peer recruiters and mentors, participating in outreach events, engaging in 1:1 and group conversations, and serving as digital influencers to boost enrollment for high-demand industry programs. As Industry Ambassadors, students build a network with peers and industry leaders and contribute to community wellbeing.

In the last several months, the program has achieved significant milestones and garnered substantial support, positioning it as a powerful force in shaping the future of education and employment. Read more below about how the program has grown and will continue to expand to further community colleges in the coming years.

Launching the program

As momentum builds, Eric Lugo, CRCorps National Director, leads the charge in partnership with fellow Chicago native Yvonne E. Nieves and a growing team of experienced professionals located across the country. This team has helped build the foundation of CRCorps, launching strategic plans to advance economic mobility agendas by building relationships and securing critical startup resources for CRCorps.

Contributing to community wellbeing with AmeriCorps

CRCorps is proud to partner with AmeriCorps and to deepen its relationship with community college systems, supporting diverse student bodies and collaborating with community leaders, stakeholders, and industry partners. AmeriCorps, a historical player in supporting marginalized communities, is evolving with CRCorps to focus on community colleges and high-demand industries.

Partnering with One Star Foundation and launching at Houston Community College

CRCorps transitioned from its initial planning phase to an operating grant, through our partnership with the OneStar Foundation, Texas’ AmeriCorps state commission. With a funding of $302,400, the program has initiated its first pilot in September 2023 in collaboration with Houston Community College. Raven Cooper joined the team during this time as CRCorps’ Houston’s Program Coordinator. To date, she has developed a cohort of three HCC community college students and will expand to a second cohort that will be onboarded at the end of February 2024.

The roles of our CRCorps Industry Ambassadors as near-peer ambassadors hold immense significance. Having emerged from the Welding and Manufacturing programs at HCC, these ambassadors bring firsthand experiences and a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities within these industries. Their commitment to national service and connecting with peers who share similar backgrounds—whether as women, single parents, or first-generation students—underscores the program's emphasis on inclusivity and the transformative potential of community college education.

Follow their inspiring stories on CRCorps Houston’s social media pages, where our first three Ambassadors, Erika, Adaiah, and Daniel, embody the spirit of service, motivation, and connection that CRCorps seeks to foster within the broader student and community network. Their journey epitomizes the program's commitment to bridging gaps, breaking barriers, and empowering individuals to successfully navigate educational and career pathways.

Launching in a new market with Serve Colorado, Arapahoe Community College, and Community College of Denver

In January 2024, CRCorps will launch at Arapahoe Community College and Community College of Denver, supported by our second operating grant from Serve Colorado. CRCorps partnered with Yoni Dobie-Geffen of the Keystone Policy Center, who now serves as a Senior Advisor to CRCorps for Denver. Yoni, has played an integral part of CRCorps’ Colorado planning since early spring of this year. CRCorps continues to grow as we bring Denver native, Alicia Lozano, to our team as our Business Partnership Manager. Alicia will serve as Denver’s Interim Program Manager while we continue our search.

Continuing expansion with Serve Connecticut and Connecticut State Community College

Serve Connecticut has awarded CRCorps a new $75,000 planning grant to explore a potential partnership with Connecticut State Community College.

Planning for a national footprint

Through our national planning grant from AmeriCorps (the Agency), we’ve continued to develop relationships to build a national footprint for CRCorps. This January we’ll submit our operating grant to support launching the program in Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, and North Carolina.

Building resources with our partners

In addition to securing grants, CRCorps has worked diligently to develop essential resources. A consultant was engaged to create a CRCorps Industry Ambassador handbook containing policies and procedures in compliance with AmeriCorps. Stomping Ground Strategies (SGS) has collaborated on toolkits and recruitment materials, ensuring the program is well-equipped for success during its startup year.

Expanding our network and partnerships

As CRCorps continues to gain momentum, it stands as a testament to the transformative power of collaborative efforts in reshaping the landscape of community college education and workforce development. Stay tuned for more updates as CRCorps launches and transforms the community college landscape as we launch in more community colleges in 2024.

Get involved

To learn more about our programming, email us at crcorps@compact.org to discuss a potential partnership in your area.