BALTIMORE COUNTY — The Community College of Baltimore County is one of three recipients to receive a 2014 Bellwether Award as announced by the Community College Futures Assembly. It is the fourth Bellwether Award CCBC has received within the past decade.
The Bellwether Awards annually recognize outstanding and innovative programs and practices that are successfully leading community colleges into the future. Community colleges compete in three categories: Instructional Programming and Services, Planning, Governance and Finance, and Workforce Development. CCBC was the winner in the Instructional Programming and Services category presenting Money Matters@CCBC: Who says pigs can’t fly? A grassroots approach to financial literacy education.
The Instructional Programs and Services category recognizes programs or services that have been designed and successfully implemented to foster or support teaching and learning in the community college. CCBC’s Money Matters@CCBC is a financial literacy component embedded within a first-year experience course. The program is an academic initiative designed to assist with addressing some of the socio-economic needs of its student body. Collectively, students participating in the program since its existence saved over $79,000 via the Operation Silver Savings project where students saved their loose change during the freshman orientation course. The program was made possible largely due to funding provided by One Main Financial and the Citi Foundation.
“We are extremely pleased with the results we’ve seen from the program thus far,” said Sonya Caesar, CCBC’s Money Matters program coordinator. “Students have literally changed their way of thinking when it comes to saving. Whether someone has a big pot of money or a little pot of money, financial literacy is about helping one determine the size of their pot and learning how to work with the money they have.”
“The lack of financial literacy is a national issue, impacting people of all ages and backgrounds,” said CCBC President Sandra Kurtinitis. “At CCBC, we have found that financial literacy can, and does, have an adverse effect on student success and retention. Being in college can be stressful enough without having to worry about financial obligations. We want to equip students with the tools they need to help them make good financial decisions.”
Dale F. Campbell, professor and director of the Community College Futures Assembly and Institute of Higher Education describes winning a Bellwether as comparable to an Oscar or Emmy for community colleges.
“Leaders of past winning programs have obtained ‘free agency’ status through the demonstrated results their programs have made,” Campbell said. “Leaders from the winning institution are often hired and recruited by other colleges to replicate the award-winning program. They also receive thousands of phone calls and hundreds of visits to help others replicate the success of their program in other community colleges and institutions.”
The Community College Futures Assembly holds a summit annually to identify the critical issues facing community college leaders, while showcasing leading edge programs with demonstrated results, worthy of replicating in any community college. Annually between 100 and 500 applications are received from around the United States, Canada and other countries. Peer-reviewed committees judge entries in each of the three categories to select 10 finalists to showcase their projects. In almost two decades there have been thousands of applicants but only 53 winning projects honored programs with the Bellwether Award.