Sparkpoint LogoAchieving the Dream (ATD) announces a national community college expansion of the Working Families Success Network (WFSN) strategy. Sixteen community colleges in four states will implement the strategy —now used at over 100 sites in the nation to help low-income individuals and families achieve financial stability — to promote post-secondary completion for students whose economic challenges can thwart their academic and career goals.

The strategy is based on a model pioneered by the Annie E. Casey Foundation which SparkPoint at Skyline College has been implementing in partnership with United Way of the Bay Area since 2010. Part of the division of Student Services under the leadership of Vice President of Student Services Dr. Joi Lin Blake, SparkPoint at Skyline College has modeled effective practices that were featured in the WFSN College Implementation Guide, which was used by ATD during the request for applications period that launched this initiative.  The WFSN strategy involves intentionally integrating and sequencing three distinct but related services:

  1. Education and employment advancement—education, job readiness, training, and placement;
  2. Income and work supports—access to student financial aid, public benefits, tax credits, and free tax assistance; and
  3. Financial services and asset building—financial education and coaching linked to affordable products and services to help families build self-sufficiency, stabilize their finances, and become more economically competitive.

The four state partner organizations and 16 colleges are displayed in the associated graph.

The four state partner organizations and 16 colleges

These colleges and state partner organizations were selected through a competitive application process that assessed commitment to racial equity and poverty reduction as well as the colleges’ demonstrated ability to support student success using data-informed decision-making.

This effort is supported with funding from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, Bank of America Charitable Foundation, Lumina Foundation, MetLife Foundation, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

“Our goal is to support students who have already taken a big step toward their long-term financial success by addressing the short-term economic challenges that can get in their way,” said Rosa Maria Castañeda, a senior associate at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. “This expansion builds on the momentum behind the Working Families Success Network strategy as well as the efforts of colleges across the country to find smarter ways to help low-income students cross the finish line.”

Skyline College President Regina Stanback Stroud, who was recently appointed by President Obama to the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability for Young Americans, U.S. Treasury, sees this work as integral to being an effective institution in higher education. In an article published in the Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, President Stroud wrote, “… more community colleges will need to recognize the importance of anti-poverty work as part of an effective strategy for student access, progress, retention, and achievement. As more and more low-income students turn to community colleges to help them pursue their dreams and support their families, these institutions and their students will only succeed by addressing a major obstacle to student advancement—poverty.”

For more information about the national community college expansion of the WFSN strategy, please visit

For more information about the Working Families Success Network, please visit

For more information about SparkPoint at Skyline College, please visit, or contact Dr. William Watson, SparkPoint Director, at

Article by Dr. William Watson