New program aims to help impoverished
PCC partners with Catholic Charities, prostate Social Services department to increase access to education
BY GAYLE PEREZ
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
Three local entities are joining forces to launch a new program aimed at helping those in poverty move toward economic stability through education.
Catholic Charities, no rx Pueblo County Department of Social Services and Pueblo Community College officials unveiled the components of Project ACCESS at a press conference Thursday morning at PCC.
“This is a great opportunity to help our community and these folks that are welfare clients, sickness Catholic Charities clients or PCC students,” said Joe Mahoney, director of Catholic Charities.
Project ACCESS, which means Advancing Community Care Enhancing Student Success, is designed to provide a support system and help remove barriers to education for those living in poverty or faced with adversity because of their family background.
Funding for the program will come from $300,000 in Colorado Opportunity Scholarship Initiative funds awarded to Catholic Charities. DSS will contribute another $139,000 over a two-year period and PCC will provide in-kind services through staff and office or classroom space.
The program will provide case management, life skills education and financial assistance for remedial math and English courses targeted to individuals in the Colorado Works/Temporary Assistance to Needy Families programs and others in the community who face barriers in obtaining higher education because of poverty or family issues.
The collaboration will allow for two case managers from Catholic Charities to be placed at PCC, where they will provide support and facilitate the Options 4 Change basic life-skills and academic assessment courses.
The courses will focus on developing career and education plans for the clients and also will provide ongoing support to address any social service needs.
Clients will have the opportunity to visit classrooms and meet college personnel in an attempt to get them comfortable in a college environment.
Once the clients successfully complete the options program, they will be encouraged to pursue a certification or degree that will help them gain employment and move toward economic self-sufficiency.
Clients who enroll as PCC students after successfully completing the options course could receive subsidies to pay for remedial math and English courses.
When current Pueblo Community College student Andrea Larson heard about the new program she said it brought tears to her eyes knowing how it will help future students, including her sisters.
“I’m almost done here but my sisters can come here and get a degree,” said Larson, who is scheduled to graduate in May. “It’s exciting to know that they will have the help.”