Case Study #1
How might we help first-generation students and their families navigate the onboarding process to college?
Stanislaus County is home to Modesto Junior College (MJC), an institution that serves 20,000 students, many of them first-generation college attendees. One design team chose to examine how to close the achievement gap for first generation students.
In their interviews with students and their families, they began to understand how hard it was for students and their families to navigate the County and College bureaucracies to access the services they needed; from housing to financial aid. All of the services were in place — but county, college and community agencies were often working at odds — and these students often lacked the transportation, bandwidth (literally) and language to acess them.
The team hosted a Solutions Summit to make visible what these families needed and HOW they access services to try and better integrate support for First generation families. Most of the staff who attended had never met and did not realize they had a doppelganger in a parallel agency. After that short meeting, the following partnerships were forged:
• Transportation: The College and the County forged a partnership worth $150,000 to enable all college students to ride the city buses for free, as opposed to using vouchers which increased complexity. As a professor later remarked, “Now my students don’t have to decide whether to use their bus voucher to get to work or to school”.
• Affordable credit: Self-Help Credit Union is negotiating a partnership with the college around providing financial support focusing on first generation students.
• Extending services to parolees enrolled at the college: The College has developed a partnership with the County probation office to seamlessly re-integrate parolees into college, including access to a food pantry, mental health services, and free transportation.