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New SparkPoint Center

It has been said that many of our students are a “flat tire away from dropping out of college” as they have limited resources available to support themselves as they are pursuing their education. In the past, we have been unable to address these basic needs of our low-income students. The SparkPoint Center at Cañada College is being established to provide support services to give students the tools they need to remain in college.

To get the Center up and running, the college has received a “Working Families Success Network” three-year $100,000 grant administered by Achieving the Dream with funding from several foundations – Annie E. Casey, Kellogg, Bank of America and Lumina. The Working Families Success Network (WFSN) is a national initiative to advance a fresh approach to helping low-income families achieve financial stability. The network is made up of national and local foundations, community colleges, and community-based organizations.

The WFSN strategy, known by some as an integrated services approach, is helping community-based organizations and community colleges rethink how they serve working families through the bundling and sequencing of complementary services and supports in the three key areas:

Education and employment services: Services that provide students with the skills needed to enter and retain employment and advance in the career of their choice.

Work and income supports: Services that assist students in accessing public benefits and other income supports in order to increase family economic stability and encourage college retention and completion.

Financial and asset building services: Services that build the financial knowledge of students, increase their access to savings and wealth-retaining financial products and encourage the meeting of both short and long-term financial goals.

The key outcomes for participants in the SparkPoint Center include job placement and retention, increased family income, credit score improvement and increased completion rates for college degrees or training programs.

In addition, SparkPoint at Cañada College will be part of a regional United Way of the Bay Area network of financial education centers designed to serve individuals and families who are working to achieve financial self-sufficiency. This Center is modeled after the SparkPoint at Skyline College and will significantly improve our overall support provided to students.

A Steering Committee for the SparkPoint at Cañada College is meeting this summer to make plans to begin providing services in late fall 2014. We will keep the campus posted on the progress made in the development of the Center through regular reports in the Olive Hill Press.

Submitted by Dr. Robin Richards, PharmD

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