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MCC Broadens Collaborations to Enhance Assistance for Single Mothers Pursuing a College Degree

Photo by Hillshire Farm on Unsplash

Monroe Community College (MCC) is one of four U.S. community colleges helping raise completion rates for single-mother learners by 30 percent by summer 2024 in collaboration with the national nonprofit Education Design Lab.

The Education Design Lab’s Single Moms Success initiative singled out MCC's work as a "promising example" of how innovative and scalable solutions are transforming completion rates for single mothers.

“Sometimes single moms can feel like they’re out there on an island for themselves. We know from all the research that occurred across higher education that when students feel connected, when they feel a sense of belonging, when they identify with others in affinity groups like them, it leads to better outcomes. … We want to make sure that the holistic needs of our students are met,” MCC President DeAnna R. Burt-Nanna said in “Single Moms Defy the Odds in College Graduation,” one in a series of newly released films produced by WorkingNation on what several U.S. colleges are doing to help single-mom learners persist and graduate.”

This recognition comes as part of the documentary series "Single Moms Defy the Odds in College Graduation," produced by WorkingNation, shedding light on the initiatives undertaken by several U.S. colleges to support single-mom learners on their journey to graduation.

MCC stands as the sole representative from the East Coast among the seven U.S. community colleges featured in the films. (Watch the 6 1/2-minute film and hear MCC students Millibel Cotto and Courtney Bleier talk about their journeys.)

While overall student enrollment at MCC saw a decline from spring 2022 to spring 2023, the proportion of single parents and single mothers pursuing an education and training at the college increased significantly. In spring 2023, MCC served 1,277 student-parents, constituting 16.8 percent of the student body:

  • 77 percent were single parents, up from 69 percent a year ago.

  • 64 percent were single moms, compared to 57 percent in 2022.

  • A 2021 MCC survey revealed that key needs of single parents and single mothers at MCC include access to emergency grants, affordable child care, and flexible course and service delivery options. Many MCC student-parents expressed a preference for online courses and remote access to services to better balance their academic pursuits with family and work responsibilities.

Launched in spring 2022 in response to these needs, MCC's Single Moms Success program provides vital holistic support and referrals to community resources for single-mom learners. In addition to expanded opportunities for emergency grants and scholarship awards, as well as flexible course options, the program offers:

  • Family-friendly orientation.

  • Personalized coaching from a dedicated support team.

  • An inclusive environment, including family-friendly study rooms.

  • Cohort-based courses that foster group learning.

  • An extended partnership with the Child Care Council, an organization connecting single mothers to quality child care options and subsidy information.

  • MCC is also exploring the possibility of introducing a pilot family housing program in the residence halls for fall 2024.

Recent data indicates that 18 percent of first-time, full-time, matriculated single-mom learners at MCC graduated within six years from fall 2016. This compares with MCC’s overall completion rate of 30.9 percent. Notably, none of the single-mom learners who graduated during this period were part of the Single Moms Success program in spring 2022.

MCC’s proactive efforts to better support single moms align with Governor Hochul’s initiative to increase access to child care services for parents pursuing education or entering the workforce. A portion of the $4.5 million in state funding was allocated to MCC, contributing to the recruitment and retention of child care staff, including increasing starting hourly wages to $15 and hiring student interns each semester to assist in the classrooms.

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Mar 22



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