Published September 15, 2020
Dodge City Community College (DC3) recently received two sizeable grants for two of its on-campus student programs—one that seeks to help Hispanic students pursue technical training, and the second that serves low-income students, first-generation college students and students with disabilities.
The first grant—which totals $2,783,647—was awarded to DC3 for a five-year Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions (DHSI) Program Title V project called Achieving Credentials in Dodge City, KS (or AC/DC KS).
“AC/DC KS is designed to develop five technical programs—including three new programs—at the college to provide Hispanic students opportunities to pursue technical training,” Dr. Clayton Tatro, DC3 Vice President of Workforce Development, said. “This training includes stackable credentials leading to high-wage jobs in industries that are recognized by the local area workforce board as high-demand in Local Area 1, which is the area where the college is located.”
Tatro said AC/DC KS intends to leverage its partnership with the National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3) to add industry-recognized certifications to robust career pathways, which will lead to college-awarded certificates and degrees.
“To encourage more high school students to transition to college and to attain college credit, DC3 will start an innovative dual enrollment program for high school juniors and seniors in these same programs,” he said. “The college will also revise and implement the Accelerating Opportunity: Kansas (AO-K) pathways for existing and new programs. This program will co-enroll adult education students in basic skills and technical programs, and all project participants will be provided tutoring and wrap-around student services.”
The DC3 service area is made up of nine counties, which covers 9,000 square miles. And although it has a high number of Hispanic residents—and a low unemployment rate of 2.4%—earnings in this area are low compared to the rest of Kansas.
“Despite the high employment rate, earnings here are lower than the rest of the state,” he said. They are actually 9.3% lower. This reflects the high demand for workers in low-wage jobs.”
In recent years, the ratio of Hispanic students at DC3 has increased steadily from 32% in fall 2012 to 45% in fall 2018, Tatro said.
“However, this percentage is lower than both the percentage in the community, which is 54%, and the percentage in the service area high schools, which is 56%,” he said. “At Dodge City High School, 78% of the students are Hispanic, which indicates that the community ratio is likely to continue to grow even more in the future.”
The second grant—which totals $1,309,440 over the course of the five-year 2020-2025 grant award cycle—was approved on Aug. 18 for the DC3 TRIO Student Support Services (SSS) Program. TRIO, which is committed to the holistic success of currently enrolled DC3 students, is available for low-income students, first-generation college students and students with disabilities.
“The Department of Education received 1,732 eligible applications for new grant awards under the Fiscal Year 2020 Student Support Services Program competition,” Dr. Gregory Roberts, TRIO Student Support Services Program Director, said. “The department was able to fund in rank order 1,131 applications based on the total score assigned to each application.”
Roberts said that an application’s total score is determined by the average score assigned to the application by three non-federal reviewers, plus the addition of any prior experience points.
“The total score of an application is 110 points, along with 15 points for prior experience, which makes an application worth a total of 125 points,” he said. “The DC3 TRIO Student Support Services Program grant application scored 124.67, which is nearly a perfect score.”
The TRIO program’s objectives include to serve as advocates for students and to meet students’ academic, vocational, and personal goals, he said. And the grant award acknowledges that the college’s program has assisted “students to overcome class, social, academic, and cultural barriers to higher education,” he said.
“Because of our past successes in serving underrepresented students and nontraditional student populations in previous grant award cycles, the DC3 TRIO SSS Program has been awarded again to continue this social equity approach in serving educationally committed eligible students from disadvantaged backgrounds,” he said.
Through the DC3 TRIO SSS Program, 144 eligible program participants will be selected, Roberts said. And the program will provide academic advising in course selection and planning; financial literacy to identify scholarship opportunities, along with assistance to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); transfer assistance; academic tutoring; career exploration and life planning; and workshops to assist with academic and personal success.
“We provide opportunities through high-quality learning, academic tutoring, advising in course selection, assistance in completing the FAFSA and assistance in exploring scholarship opportunities—as well as provide assistance to apply for admissions to a four-year college or university,” Roberts said.
By Lance ZieschDC3 Media Specialist