Compact launches new National Service Corps with planning grants in Colorado and Texas
Aug 30, 2022
Campus Compact (Compact), a national coalition of colleges and universities committed to advancing the public purposes of colleges and universities, has announced it has now secured the required funding and leadership to advance planning for the new program College Renaissance Corps (CRCorps). CRCorps is a new national service program aimed at training community college students enrolled in high-demand industry programs as near-peer recruiters for educational and training opportunities at community colleges.
CRCorps builds off AmeriCorps’ mission of providing critical services to enhance educational and economic mobility in historically underserved and economically disadvantaged communities. In creating the program, Compact sees an opportunity to leverage the important role that community colleges play in economic and workforce advancement.
“The Compact has long partnered with community colleges to elevate civic engagement on campuses,” says Bobbie Lauer, CEO of the Compact. “CRCorps will build on that legacy while purposely supporting the role community colleges will play in our nation’s recovery by uplifting student voices and producing talent for high-demand sectors.”
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, colleges and universities grappled with enrollment declines that present significant challenges to industry and the economy. Decreasing enrollment trends at community colleges have further exacerbated workforce shortages in industries poised to shape inclusive economic recovery. Despite the trend, business, civic, and legislative leaders believe community colleges are key to fueling a next generation workforce in areas like transportation, distribution, and logistics, advanced manufacturing, and technology.
To date, Compact has secured funding to initiate the planning stages of CRCorps. The One Star Foundation has confirmed funding to develop work in partnership with the Houston Community College System in Texas, and Serve Colorado will fund planning with Arapahoe Community College and Community College of Denver in Colorado.
“HCC Southeast’s Center of Excellence in Smart Manufacturing and Logistics is poised to meet the Houston region’s critical talent needs,” says Dr. Frances Villagran-Glover, President of HCC Southeast College. “We’re excited to develop this new partnership with Compact and the One Star Foundation to help our exceptional students tell powerful stories about their experiences with us.”
In a joint statement, Dr. Marielena DeSantis, President of the Community College of Denver and Dr. Stephanie Fujii, President, of the Arapahoe Community College said, “AmeriCorps Service Programs have inspired millions of students to pursue and enroll at colleges and universities. Developing a new Service Corps focused explicitly on community college education programs at this critical juncture presents a unique opportunity for Coloradans who are struggling to engage fully in our rebounding economy. We’re pleased to serve as planning partners in this early stage of the work.”
CRCorps will employ community college students enrolled in industry-based certification and degree programs to serve as near-peer college ambassadors who engage individuals in-person and through digital storytelling. CRCorps will prepare members for this effort by offering work-based learning experiences in partnership with companies, allowing the students to tell dynamic stories about the sectors in which they are training.
To lead this effort, Compact has hired Eric Lugo to serve as CRCorps National Director. Lugo will oversee the strategy and planning process, and lead a team of coordinators placed locally in the planning grant cities. He currently serves as a senior advisor at City Colleges of Chicago, Illinois’ largest community college system, where he consults on innovation and economic mobility efforts. Lugo previously served City Colleges as Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief of Staff, prior to returning in early 2022. He’s held roles at the University of Illinois, JPMorgan Chase and Instituto del Progreso Latino in Chicago. He is an AmeriCorps alumnus.
In addition, Compact is launching a National Advisory Board comprised of business, philanthropic, civic, social impact experts. Lugo will partner with the National Advisory Board to develop CRCorps operational, fundraising and advocacy strategy – all key to successfully launching and scaling the ambitious program. Bobbie Lauer, CEO, and Matt Farley, Director of Administration and National Service Programs for the Compact, will also serve on the Advisory Board.
To learn more about CRCorps, visit compact.org or hccs.edu.