The Family Economic Security Program (FESP) provides low- and moderate-income women who support their families with scholarships, success funds, financial coaching, achievement coaching (career, academic, and personal), and peer-to-peer mentoring to help them stay in school and graduate.
A five-year pilot program in partnership with Norwalk Community College and the NCC Foundation served 106 students and yielded successful outcomes.
- 56 graduated with an associate degree
- 30 graduates are enrolled in four-year colleges
- 10 graduates have also earned a bachelor’s degree; 1 is enrolled in a graduate program
- 97% of participants agreed FESP assisted them with their personal, career, financial and academic goals
- 92% of participants indicated they shared the personal, academic, financial and career information they received with family and friends, multiplying the impact of FESP
- 188 children have witnessed their mothers pursuing higher education. Research found “degree attainment is positively related with a child’s educational success” (Attewell & Lavin, 2007; Goldrick-Rab & Sorensen, 2010; Wilson & Cox, 2011)
- FESP has cultivated and nurtured a collaborative relationship with Norwalk Community College’s Office of Student Activities and Service Learning to provide programs and activities for students with children.
While the FESP pilot has helped women, a disturbing trend is emerging. More young, single working mothers don’t have the 21st century skills employers require. This ‘lack of readiness’ is increasing the skills gap and keeping more families and children in poverty.
What’s next: Housatonic Community College to launch FESP
The Fund for Women and Girls and Housatonic Community College have formed an enhanced Family Economic Security Program to support low- and moderate-income students with dependents as they attend the college.
The goal is to provide 400 eligible students with career, financial, academic, achievement coaching and job readiness skills to earn a degree or certificate so they can move up to family-sustaining employment.
The program will be open to Bridgeport area women with dependents or who are low-income or moderate income, including existing HCC students.The first group of students will be welcomed to the HCC program in the fall 2015 semester.
Participating students will receive:
Financial education and credit repair
Personal development workshops
Family and cultural events
Skill training and internships
Job search assistance
Guidance on family tax credits
Free income tax preparation (VITA)
In addition, HCC will include the FESP in college-wide efforts to build connections with Fairfield County employers for internships and other work-based experiences.