The Grays Harbor Community Foundation is pleased to announce a groundbreaking new program at Grays Harbor College: the “Just in Time” Program for Student Support.
The Community Foundation Board identified supporting students who were studying and were likely to remain in Grays Harbor as a priority during a Strategic Planning Session earlier this year. The Scholarship Committee was tasked with discovering ways to achieve this goal, and they proposed a meeting with Grays Harbor College staff to learn about the true needs of the students who may require additional help in navigating the college environment. The two organizations discussed the common barriers students faced in successfully completing their degree at Grays Harbor College and emergency financial support was a strong theme.
Grays Harbor College was asked to make a proposal to the Scholarship Committee for consideration on how funding from the Community Foundation would make the most impact for those promising but financially struggling students. They proposed the “Just in Time” Program, where appointed Grays Harbor College staff could work one-on-one with students who were at risk of withdrawing from their classes due to financial need. The funding could close gaps created by federally funded programs to allow these students that did not quite fit the criteria of other programs, but were still in need, to proceed with their education and achieve their goals.
“GHC is thrilled to partner with the GH Community Foundation to support students faced with financial challenges that might force them to choose between staying in school or meeting the basic needs of their family situation,” said Director of Student Success, Diane Smith. “This program is called “Just in Time” because it will allow us to provide financial assistance directly to students to address an emergent need just before they might drop out.”
Grays Harbor College discovered an average of 50 students, out of 1900 students enrolled, withdraw for nonpayment of tuition each quarter. Many of these students are without the resources needed to pay for tuition while financial aid is finalized or a paycheck comes through. With a little assistance at just the right time, they could begin classes with the books and supplies they need to successfully start their courses. There is another group of students who are not eligible for traditional funding resources that also need financial assistance to allow them to enroll and continue on their journey of success. These students would also be aided by the “Just in Time” program.
“The support this grant will provide will not only make a difference by keeping a student in school but will ultimately keep their dreams alive for a better, brighter future for themselves and their family,” Smith said.
Student Services personnel at Grays Harbor College will work to contact these students individually and discuss the barriers they might be facing. Staff is well-versed in the programs available to help students overcome those barriers and the “Just in Time” Program is intended to be one more resource they may call upon if necessary. These funds are meant to be flexible and used at the discretion of the staff who work with students day-in and day-out, as they are the most acutely aware of the needs that exist. Students who receive “Just in Time” funding will be assisted in creating a long-term financial plan so that the likelihood of emergency financial situations in the future will be reduced.
The Grays Harbor Community Foundation was confident that the infrastructure was already in place at Grays Harbor College to identify, serve, and track these individuals through their journey. The College’s dedication to Student Success and the Community Foundation’s desire to support students who will be studying, living, and working in Grays Harbor makes for a strong network that both organizations hope will better serve the community.
Grays Harbor College President Ed Brewster is pleased about the opportunity to work together. “This grant and our partnership with the GH Community Foundation will definitely make a positive difference for our students and their families. Anytime we can work together to help students realize their dreams of improving their lives is a tremendous win for our entire Harbor community.”
This program fit extremely well with the intent of Building Community Philanthropy funds to address Intergenerational Poverty in Grays Harbor. The Community Foundation believes that education is a pathway out of poverty for many, but that achieving educational goals can be a challenge for those experiencing financial barriers. Providing a resource to those in our community who are seeking to better their position but are unable to do so without support is one way the Grays Harbor Community Foundation can tackle a complex issue like the cycle of poverty.