Common Cause: learning from the example of community colleges

In this issue, we bring you stories and resources that illustrate the ways that community colleges play a critical role in communities. and ways they leverage civic and community engagement to make an impact.

The Heartbeat of Civic Engagement in Community Colleges

Deanna Villanueva-Saucedo, Associate Vice Chancellor of the Center for Excellence in Inclusive Democracy at Maricopa Community Colleges & Facilitator of Campus Compact Community Colleges Network

Community College campuses across the country
Community College campuses across the country

The civic mission is inherent in the role of community colleges across the country. As articulated in the 1947 Truman Commission Report, colleges were envisioned as education for democracy and a way of restoring civic life. Written on the heels of WWII and a global fight against authoritarianism, it is not surprising that a fuller realization of democracy is part of our collective charge. This focus on civics and ensuring that our students leave us with the skills to fully engage in civic life can be challenging, however, for many colleges.

Community Colleges across the country ensure access to higher education for people from all walks of life, ages, and backgrounds including traditionally underserved populations. Our students are often first generation and juggling a host of life issues including family responsibilities and multiple jobs.  Given these real life struggles that our students face, it is little wonder that colleges had to pivot quickly during the pandemic. From providing virtual access to an increased focus on basic needs support, colleges responded quickly, and rightly so. One of the unfortunate consequences of this shifting landscape has been challenges with enrollment, finances, and staffing, including support for civic engagement.

Despite the challenges, dedicated staff are the heartbeat of this work. Campus Compact’s support in creating a network for community college civic engagement practitioners has been invaluable. Monthly meetings of the community college network allow us to come together to share best practices, common struggles, and ideas for collective impact. The network is fortunate to have veterans in the field that join us to share their wisdom from years of experience. Equally as impactful are those new to the field, bringing a different energy and questions that help us all reflect on our work.

All of our community college partners are invited to join us for our monthly meetings. Join us as we share ideas, celebrate wins, and support one another in this work of the heart.

Community Colleges In Action

These community colleges and their partners illustrate different approaches to civic and community engagement that create powerful impact in communities.

houston community college student

College Renaissance Corps kicks off at Houston Community College and begins expansion

Hear more about how community colleges are partnering with Campus Compact’s CRCorps program to boost community enrollment in high-demand programs and empower students to serve as leaders in their industries and communities.
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factory equipment

Community Colleges are Critical to the Innovation Economy

In this article from The Chronicle of Higher Education, Shalin Hyotishi highlights the CHIPS and Science Act, which offers support for manufacturing and workforce development, and shares how community colleges, including Compact member Miami Dade College, are already bolstering our innovation economy.
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mentor and mentee

NJ community colleges & Princeton University model cross-institutional partnerships

Princeton University has launched the Program for Community College Engagement, which aims to partner with local community colleges to allow for shared learning, greater collaboration, and connection that creates greater impact at the institutions and in communities.
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Mesa community college


Four Maricopa Community Colleges host event to encourage K12 girls to pursue I.T. careers

Mesa Community College, Chandler-Gilbert Community College, Rio Salado College, and Scottsdale Community College partnered to host the Girls Get IT event to teach participants about career possibilities available in I.T. and encourage high school students to pursue the next steps in their educational journeys.More →

  • Raritan Valley Community College receives donation to benefit students who give back to their communities through the RVCC Service Learning Program, an initiative that enables students to use community service as part of their academic classwork and receive course credit for the experience | More →

  • Portland Community College will launch the second season of its “Let’s Talk!” podcast focused on disability-related discussions with the aim of fostering inclusion, belonging, and equity while raising awareness about the experience of disabled students within the campus community | More →

Take action: Community College engagement efforts

Community colleges offer great models of effective community engagement work that can be replicated at 2-year institutions and beyond.

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umass amherst campus

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To leverage the full benefits of Campus Compact at your institution, join our coalition. Campus Compact membership offers valuable information, powerful networks, and opportunities to work collectively with peers across the country.

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