By Emily Reeves, Staff Reporter
Not all students at Amarillo College are lucky enough to wake up with food, clothing or even a home, but Amarillo College aims to change that and remove the barriers to success through the AC Poverty Initiative.
Cara Crowley, the vice president of strategic initiatives, said the initiative revolves around AC’s theory of change.
“If you address student poverty barriers in an accelerated learning environment supported by a deep culture of caring, students will complete,” Crowley said.
The goal of the initiative is to better understand the needs of AC’s students and better meet them, she said.
Amarillo College’s “No Excuses Poverty Initiative: A Strategy Guide,” put together by Crowley and others, provides an overview of the idea behind the initiative and the process behind forming it.
The guide says that AC’s leaders reevaluated student data and asked students what barriers held them back from being successful with the hope of finding problems for the college to help students overcome in order to achieve academic success.
AC officials built the resources it offers to students around the biggest areas of conflict students listed in the survey.
The Poverty Initiative has several services it offers in order to aid students both physically and mentally.
“There are five key initiatives to address student poverty barriers — the Advocacy & Resource Center, Counseling Center, Legal Aid Clinic, Career and Employment Center and Emergency Aid,” Crowley said.
“Information about these services is communicated to students through New Student Orientation, First Year Seminar and ongoing communication and referral by faculty, staff and fellow students,” she said.
Services provided at the ARC are free to all students without evidence of financial need.
Director of Social Services Jordan Herrera said the ARC currently serves about 30% of the student body and has been a part of Amarillo College since 2016.
According to Herrera, only two services offered at AC require students to meet additional qualifications: scholarships and emergency assistance.
Students must have a 2.0 GPA and be currently enrolled in classes to receive aid from these programs.
Despite the work AC has put into the Poverty Initiative, some students said they are not aware of the resources provided.
“I haven’t heard of the Poverty Initiative,” said Cole Davis, a recently graduated AC student.
Crowley said that faculty members are not required to tell students about the initiative, but, “Instructors are encouraged to inform students of the resources they have available to them,” Herrera said.
More information about the services provided for students through AC is available on the AC website under student resources.