Initiative will help underserved students obtain a two-year education without debt
Dawson Community College rolled out a program to help underserved youth obtain a post-secondary education. Dawson Promise is an initiative that will help students who are homeless or aging out of foster care obtain a two-year education without debt.
Through Dawson Promise, DCC’s goal is to provide each student with year-round living accommodations; 10-15 hours of work per week; resume writing, interviewing, and job skills training; individualized mentoring; and support from a community host family as they pursue a certificate, or a two-year degree and prepare to either enter the job market or transfer to a four-year college or university. Upon leaving DCC, students will have a portfolio to take to prospective employers or other institutions of higher education. Portfolios will include letters of recommendation, transcripts, and a credit history statement showing all school bills have been paid in-full.
Leslie Weldon, DCC’s Vice President of Advancement and Human Resources was one of the driving forces behind Dawson Promise. “We’re very excited about the possibilities Dawson Promise opens up for students who may have limited opportunities to continue their education and begin building a foundation for their future.”
Weldon and other DCC officials consulted several potential partners as they developed Dawson Promise, and in late 2018, the College held a public forum to share and discuss the initiative with the Glendive community. Child advocacy and social service organizations in the community were in attendance and expressed support for the idea. In the weeks since, Weldon has been presenting Dawson Promise to community groups, government agencies, and other stakeholders across Montana.
The Dawson Promise program has the backing of both their Board of Trustees and the Glendive community.
“The state of Montana ends its support of children in the foster care program at age 18. Many do not have the tools, funding, or support necessary to continue their education,” said DCC Trustee Rich Rowe. “Dawson Promise exists to support children who have ‘aged out’ of the state system and ensure they have adequate skills to become productive adults with a marketable vocation and/or pathway to debt-free higher education. This is a most noble cause.”
Mark Goyette, Principal at Glendive’s Washington Middle School, also praised the effort. “Thank you for sharing the Dawson Promise program. I cannot tell you how proud I am to be a DCC alumni when I see you all doing such great things like this! Keep up the good work.”
The Tumbleweed Program in Billings, a non-profit that provides services to runaway, homeless, and vulnerable youth and their families, is just one of the partner agencies that has expressed support for Dawson Promise.
“Tumbleweed’s vision is to end youth homelessness in our community, and we appreciate the commitment and work Dawson Community College has done with Dawson Promise,” said Erika Willis, Tumbleweed Executive Director. “Dawson Promise is an opportunity for our youth to build a strong foundation for their future. We appreciate Dawson Community College’s commitment to changing one life at a time.”
DCC is prepared to accept students through Dawson Promise effective for Summer 2019. Weldon and other DCC officials have been speaking to students and counselors across the state about Dawson Promise, and a couple of students have already made the decision to attend DCC this summer.
There is no formal application process. Rather, students are identified through their relationships with counselors, caretakers, or other advocates. Additionally, students may be identified through the information provided on financial aid paperwork. Students may also self-identify and speak with a DCC representative to determine if Dawson Promise can help them obtain an education.
For more information on Dawson Promise, contact Leslie Weldon at 406-377-9412 or firstname.lastname@example.org.