Henry Ford Community College in Dearborn has won an $85,000 grant through a national program titled Dreamkeepers.

The program is sponsored by the Kresge Foundation, Lumina Foundation for Education and The Wal-mart Foundation. Dreamkeepers addresses college drop-out rates by providing assistance to students facing unexpected financial emergencies.

HFCC earned selection to participate in the program because of the institution’s increasing enrollment of underserved and first-generation students, exemplary educational programs that prepare professionals for the new knowledge economy and ability of the college to serve individuals who have recently lost their jobs and seek new skills and training in high-demand industries.

HFCC grant will fund the design and implement of a program to help students over the next three years. This funding is made available through a unique partnership between the Kresge Foundation, Lumina Foundation for Education and the Wal-mart Foundation.

According to recent research, unexpected financial setbacks are one of the top reasons students drop out of school. The Dreamkeepers program is designed to keep students in school in spite of these setbacks.

Gail Mee, president of HFCC, said she believes this grant will provide the critical support necessary to keep those students on the brink of leaving college fully engaged in their education.

“Henry Ford Community College prides itself on helping students achieve academically and move into rewarding professional careers,” she said, adding that with this grant, “we can insure that students who wish to earn their degree but find themselves in vulnerable financial positions will now have an additional support mechanism to continue their studies without worry.”

Donald Lassere, senior vice president of Scholarship America, said that Dreamkeepers “has proven to be a catalyst that keeps students enrolled in their college programs. In fact, 84 percent of students who received assistance in 2008 either reenrolled in school the following semester or graduated — compared with the national average of 55 percent.”

Scholarship America will provide onsite support and training to help each of the new colleges establish the program and raise funds to ensure its long-term success. Scholarship America will also provide an online application tool and online financial literacy tool for the students.

Since 2004, Scholarship America has distributed nearly $1.1 million in student grants through the Dreamkeepers program. To date, the average student grant of $523 has been used for purposes like housing, utilities, meals, childcare, transportation or car repairs. Now in 31 schools across the country, Scholarship America plans to continue raising funds so additional community colleges can offer the Dreamkeepers program as part of their overall efforts to improve graduation rates.

More at www.hfcc.edu, www.scholarshipamerica.org and at www.dreamkeepers.org.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.


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