By JENNA CAMHI
Norwalk is among 10 community colleges to receive the Sustaining Innovation Award. This recognizes the Family Economic Security Program (FESP) and its successful efforts in helping students achieve financial self-sufficiency, improve job skills and connect to public supports.
FESP has been implemented for five years and is designed to help low and middle income families increase their career opportunities through attaining college degrees. FESP works with students to set up coaching sessions in order to assess personal, career, and economic goals.
“Students engaged in FESP have indicated a strong appreciation for knowing that the college, via the program staff, cares about them and that has helped them to stay focused on their education,” said Kristina Testa-Buzzee, director of FESP.
FESP is based on the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF), established in 1948, which includes the Center for Working Families (CWF) model. The CWF specializes in generating new wealth for families and their communities. Together, they focus on improving job skills so individuals can get better careers to support their families. Yolanda Caldera-Durant, program associate at AECF, works on issues surrounding workforce development.
“Our work is to strengthen vulnerable families and children and help them become successful,” said Caldera-Durant.
AECF works with community college across the nation to guide students to a state of economic stability and financial literacy. Out of all the colleges to implement these models, NCC is the only one to specifically focus on accommodations for students with children.
“It is part of a larger initiative to assist our students in every way possible, to reduce or remove barriers that would get in the way of them completing their education with us,” said Provost Pamela Edington.