Penn State Lehigh Valley, Lehigh Carbon Community College Forming Innovative New Partnership
By Colin McEvoy on August 23, 2017
Penn State Lehigh Valley and the Lehigh Carbon Community College (LCCC) are partnering on a new scholarship fund that will help students with limited means attend college, while also assisting in the development and retention of talent in the Lehigh Valley.
The Collective Impact Scholarship Fund will also support students graduating with a degree in fields needed to fill talent gaps in the Lehigh Valley workforce.
“With this increased scholarship funding, we can continue to recruit and retain the area’s brightest students who require financial support to reach their potential,” said Ann D. Bieber, president of LCCC. “Collectively, we are advancing economic prosperity in the Lehigh Valley.”
The Collective Impact Scholarship Fund will be used to provide last dollar support to students who graduate from one of the high schools in the Lehigh Valley, and go on to attend LCCC or Penn State Lehigh Valley for their college education.
Eighty percent of Penn State Lehigh Valley students come from the Lehigh Valley, according to Kristy Hove, the school’s institutional planner. All of the school’s degree programs incorporate an internship, and 96 students in 2016-17 completed an internship, most with businesses and nonprofits in the region.
“We view ourselves as picking up the high school pipeline, training Lehigh Valley graduates, and getting them ready to enter the Lehigh Valley workforce,” Hove said.
Nearly 25 percent of the students at Penn State Lehigh Valley live below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, and 18 percent of its students work more than 30 hours per week, according to Tina Q. Richardson, chancellor of Penn State Lehigh Valley.
Richardson said these students are capable of earning a degree, contributing significantly to the workforce, and impacting the growth of the Lehigh Valley economy, but the cost of higher education is prohibitive.
“We have so many academically talented students at both of our institutions who are struggling to start and complete their degree due to financial challenges,” Richardson said. “As education leaders, we made a strategic decision to work across institutions to address the aspects of the affordability and academic progress problem.”
The two schools will host a special fundraiser event to benefit the scholarship fund at the Philadelphia Flyers exhibition hockey game at the PPL Center in Allentown on Sept. 20. To donate to the fund or to become a Title or Presenting Sponsor of the event, visit the Collective Impact Scholarship Fundraiser website.
Penn State offers several degree programs that address the needs of the Lehigh Valley job market, including biobehavioral health, and health policy and administration, which caters to the Lehigh Valley’s highly-ranked health care providers and the growing patient population.
Other such degree programs include arts administration, which affords local students internship opportunities in the region’s premiere arts organizations, Hove said, and project and supply chain management, which is the fastest-growing industry in the Lehigh Valley.
Fifty-seven percent of Penn State Lehigh Valley students and 42 percent of LCCC students receive financial aid. On average, a scholarship in the $2,000 to $5,000 range can make the difference for a first-time, full-time student entering college, Richardson said.
The Collective Impact Scholarship Fund builds on Penn State Lehigh Valley’s long history of collaborating on transfer credit policies for specific academic degree programs, Richardson said, while also starting a new trend for institutions in the region to jointly prioritize student access and successful progress to degree completion.
“Collective impact is an approach to solving complex social issues through innovative and disciplined collaboration,” said Marci Ronald, executive vice president of the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.
“Two institutions making such an incredible commitment to students here in the Lehigh Valley is an example of how working together on a common agenda can benefit us all, Ronald said. “We support this new endeavor wholeheartedly.”
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