Catholic Higher Education and First Generation Students

In 2012, the Georgetown University Center on Education and the U.S. Department of Education found that almost a third of current undergraduates are considered first-generation college students. Driven by their faith-based mission, ACCU member institutions have developed a breadth of resources for first-generation students, as well as the administration, faculty, and staff who work with them.

In the Summer 2015 issue of Update, ACCU featured several success stories of Catholic colleges and universities’ service towards their first-generation and low-income students. ACCU also has dedicated a webpage to share information on serving first-generation students. Here are a few examples of programs ACCU members have instituted:

  • St. Mary’s College (CA) offers a High Potential Sphere of Success program, a federally funded TRIO Student Support Services Program, which is designed to cultivate the success of first-generation and low-income students through leadership development, peer mentoring, and financial support.
  • Silver Lake College of the Holy Family (WI) has adopted the Work College model, where all incoming residential freshman or transfer students will be required to work ten hours per week in a field related to their coursework, in exchange for $2,800 tuition credit per year.
  • Notre Dame de Namur University (CA) supports its first-generation students through a Bill Hannon Foundation grant for their Gen 1 program, which provides financial and academic support, as well as mentoring.

Read more examples on the ACCU website.

What does your college or university do to support first generation and low income students? Let us know! 

University of Notre Dame Breaks the Chains of Predatory Lending

Have you ever wondered what happens when an individual takes a payday loan? Typically, payday lenders  issue an individual a loan with a large interest rate payable on the borrower’s payday. If the borrower cannot repay the loan, the lender collects interest and fees and changes the repayment date of the loan to the following payday.  Since the average borrower rolls a loan for four months, the loan often more than doubles in price due to high interest rates and fees. According to University of Notre Dame, this structure costs South Bend, Indiana’s poor $3.5 million in interest fees in a given year. Given their knowledge about this injustice, some Notre Dame students have created an alternative.

In a recently published article, Notre Dame highlights the Jubilee Initiative for Financial Inclusion (JIFFI), a student run initiative with the mission to “create an alternative to the predatory lending industry in South Bend.”  Since its inception in February 2012, JIFFI has provided a total of twenty-nine loans and hopes to provide 20 more this year.

In the article, Lisa McDaniel, the group’s first client, says, “‘JIFFI deserves a big thank you from the community. […] It’s fantastic if they help others as much as they’ve helped me.'” Read the full article to learn more about JIFFI.

How does your campus work towards economic justice?  Let us know!

2015 Social Venture Boot Camp with CCUSA

The Social Venture Boot Camp, offered through Catholic Charities USA’s (CCUSA) partnership with the University of Notre Dame, is an opportunity for CCUSA members to strengthen their social enterprise efforts and face the pressing challenges associated with financial sustainability head-on. Economic justice is a critical issue, and social venture is an innovative method to help address the root causes of poverty.

Boot camp participants will be paired up with business mentors, as well as upper-level undergraduate and/or graduate students, as available, in a workshop environment to research and analyze the existing or proposed product or service and work through a business plan that the social venture program can then use to help guide future growth.

Applications for the 2015 Social Venture Boot Camp are due no later than Monday, April 6, and acceptance will be confirmed by the first week of May. Preparation work will be necessary and will be due by Monday, June 15. If you have any questions about the Boot Camp or how your group can put forth a competitive application, please contact Maria Gonzales.

How does your campus engage with Fair Trade?

ACCU has created “Fair Trade and Catholic Higher Education”, highlighting how ACCU member institutions have engaged with the fair trade movement. To download the document, and view additional Fair Trade resources, please visit our website.

Did you know that students at Fordham University run their own Fair Trade business? View the website here, and let us know how your campus engages with Fair Trade!

View CCHD & ACCU Partnership Success!

Xavier University, a member college at ACCU, has been working with the CCHD-funded project Community Blend. See the video below to get a glimpse into the coffeeshop and the lives of the workers there, or follow this link to see how it all started!

Does your university partner with a CCHD-funded organization? Let ACCU know the great work you are doing!

Farmworker coalition unveils Fair Food label

The Florida farmworkers Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a CCHD funded group that has worked with ACCU member colleges before, has announced that their new FairFood program label is now in use. When you see this label in stores you’ll know that the tomatoes are from farms that ensure the basic human rights of the women and men in the fields.

These rights include safe working conditions free of sexual violence and forced labor, and that the workers on those farms are receiving the Fair Food “Penny per Pound” bonus.

Learn more about the Fair Food program by reading this article.