Merrimack Valley Legislative Delegation Discusses Community College Budget Priorities
Haverhill, MA (January 27, 2023)–State Senator Barry Finegold and Representative Frank Moran welcomed new members of the Merrimack Valley Legislative Delegation on the Northern Essex Community College Haverhill Campus on Friday, January 27. Attendees heard from NECC and Massachusetts Association of Community Colleges (MACC) leaders on Educational and Workforce Development goals and priorities.
Northern Essex President Lane Glenn shared a brief history of the college, recent milestones, what it means to be a designated Hispanic Serving Institution, and the success of public-private collaborations such as the Lawrence Partnership before delving into budget priorities.
Supporting Urgent Community College Equity through Student Services (SUCCESS)
The SUCCESS Fund was created in Fiscal Year ’21 for all community colleges in the Commonwealth to build programs to support underrepresented and vulnerable students. The SUCCESS initiative is modeled after Northern Essex’s Pathways to Academic and Career Excellence (PACE) Program, a federally-funded student support services program. President Glenn was instrumental in lobbying for its creation. MACC is requesting an increase in funding from $14 million in FY23 to $18 million in FY24. At Northern Essex, the grant was used to create the SOAR program, which provides advising, career counseling, community-building events, and other support services.
Governor Maura Healy has proposed implementing a new program to fund free community college certificates and degrees for Massachusetts residents over 25 who still need to complete a college credential. Dubbed MassReconnect, similar programs exist in the states of Michigan and Tennessee. Nate Mackinnon, MACC Executive Director, says the program would leverage existing federal financial aid, grants, and scholarships. Approximately 2 million adults could qualify for MassReconnect.
Hundreds of students from more than 25 area high schools enroll in the Northern Essex Early College program each year. The program allows students to earn college credit while in high school. Students in designated programs with Haverhill High School, Lawrence High School, and Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School earn credit for free, while others pay a discounted rate of $150 per credit. MACC supports increasing two budget line items for Early College from a combined $19 million to $27.6 Million for FY24.
MACC is also continuing advocacy for several programs in Workforce Development. Those include the Training Resources and Internship Networks (TRAIN) grant program, the Community College Workforce Training Incentive Grant, and the Education and Training Fund (ETF). ETF funds help community colleges respond to specific labor market needs, especially in healthcare, education, manufacturing, and technology. MACC advocates for the ETF to become a separate line item at $ 15 million. “I’m proud of long-term outcomes driven by opportunities via NECC,” said Sen. Fienegold.
The discussion and orientation wrapped up with a brief tour of the Haverhill Campus.
Northern Essex Community College, the first Federally designated Hispanic Serving Institution in New England, is an education leader for the Merrimack Valley. Through a supportive learning environment and cultural inclusion, NECC embraces all identities and inspires initiative and excellence through top-notch, affordable certificate and associate degree programs online and at campuses in Haverhill and Lawrence. NECC offers many bachelor’s degree transfer options, workforce development, and community education classes and is host to the NECC Police Academy, MassHire Merrimack Valley, and Gallaudet University’s Regional Center for the deaf and hard of hearing. Visit Northern Essex online at www.necc.mass.edu.