Heather Roundtable PictureThe Benefits Access for College Completion (BACC) team, consisting of the SparkPoint Director, William Watson, Financial Aid Director Regina Morrison, Research Analyst Katie Galvin, and BACC Assistant Project Director Heather Smith, attended the national cross-site convening at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio from October 7th through October 9th. Six of the seven colleges involved in the national pilot project attended the conference to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Reflect and learn from our successes and challenges since the beginning of the project in July 2012;
  • Gain tools and resources to build a model for continuously improving our processes, including using different kinds of data to inform these improvements;
  • Identify strategies and approaches that will strengthen and sustain benefits access on our campus

The two day conference commenced with a welcome dinner during which Skyline College’s BACC team had the privilege of reconnecting with its counterparts in other states, as well as Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) grant administrators. The next day of the convening consisted of a series of workshops and plenary sessions, which focused on findings from the evaluation team, and sharing of best practices among the colleges. BACC Assistant Project Director, Heather Smith, reported out to the group on her role as the coordinator of the project on campus. The afternoon consisted of peer learning sessions during which Heather shared best practices around working with county agencies to obtain data and improve benefits access results.

The second day of the convening began with a panel session highlighting the hosting college’s use of interns and student workers, and integration of BACC screening and application assistance into financial aid operations. The next part of the conference focused on self-assessments by each college on seven benefits access functions. This provided Skyline College’s BACC team with an opportunity to reflect on its strengths and areas of improvement in connecting eligible students on campus to public benefits, which we anticipate will contribute to an increase in success, retention and completion. Next, funders shared lessons they learned from observing the work of the seven BACC colleges over the course of one year and three months. The convening ended with a planning session during which our team identified four specific strategies we committed to implementing upon our return to California.

For more information visit the Benefits Access for College Completion (BACC) page. If you would like to speak to someone on campus, please contact Heather Smith at (650) 738-4240.

Article by Heather Smith, Photo by Dr. William Watson.