Central Lakes College was named to the #RealCollege Institutional Capacity-Building Cohort by The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice.

CLC is one of 27 higher education institutions in the country named to the cohort.

The program is designed to assist colleges and universities in retaining students who need food and housing support and who were made more vulnerable because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The cohort will use data from The Hope Center’s evidence-based research studies to empower institutions in assisting #RealCollege students. The cohort will create an ecosystem for developing solutions to complex problems, to empower leaders to impact organizational change, and to build connections with other colleges. Member institutions will build their capacity for assessment, analysis and social support systems for students.

“We are excited to partner with The Hope Center as members of their first #RealCollege Institutional Capacity-Building Cohort,” CLC Student Life Director Erich Heppner stated in a news release. “Our participation in this cohort means that we will learn strategies on how to make a meaningful impact in the fight to eradicate student hunger on our campuses. It also means that we will take the next step forward for our students by finding innovative ways to meet their basic needs of housing, transportation, childcare, etc. Many of our students make tough choices every day, such as skipping meals to pay rent. Our hope is that these trainings will enable us to help students no longer have to make those types of impossible choices.”

Sara Goldrick-Rab, president and founder of The Hope Center, added: “The ICBC Cohort will provide new and lasting connections for all member institutions as we explore the best practices for assisting students with food, housing, and the hidden challenges of degree completion during the pandemic. This national cohort will move our research into action, building a diverse exchange of ideas and cohesion in our efforts.”

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The cohort begins this month and runs through May 2022, with learning modules focused on assessment, support, driving state and federal policy and advocacy, and supporting the basic needs ecosystem. Each member institution will be represented by leaders including administrators, staff, faculty and students. Sessions will offer deep analysis of The Hope Center’s research and annual surveys, which are the nation’s largest and longest-standing rigorous assessment of students’ basic needs, according to the release.