The NCC Foundation Transforms Lives…One Student at a Time
Norwalk Community College was founded in 1961 and is the oldest public two-year college in Connecticut, with an annual enrollment of nearly 15,000 students in both credit and non-credit programs. NCC has served over 170,000 students to date and more Fairfield County students attend NCC than any other post-secondary institution.
Recognizing that Connecticut has the largest K-12 academic achievement gap in the nation,* NCC embraces the diverse needs of its students and provides an environment that empowers individuals to reach their highest potential. From the infant enrolled in NCC’s Child Development Lab School to the retiree who joins the Lifetime Learners Institute on campus, we are a resource for all ages.
NCC is truly the educational center of our community, providing opportunities for intellectual inquiry, open dialogue, multicultural awareness and lifelong learning. The majority of NCC graduates continue to live in Fairfield County, providing an educated and committed workforce for local employers. When NCC students succeed, our community succeeds.
*Connecticut Commission on Children
Student Success and Scholarships
NCC is a racially, ethnically and academically diverse college. NCC has been recognized as a Hispanic-Serving Institution by the U.S. Dept. of Education (37% of NCC’s students are Hispanic). A significant proportion of NCC students are low-income, minority and first generation students, and many come from homes in which English is not the primary language. Students come from over 60 countries and 40 languages.
Ninety-percent of NCC students reside in 11 Fairfield County towns (Stamford and Norwalk comprise more than 60%). Approximately 65% of full-time students and 45% of all NCC students receive some form of financial aid. Many of these students struggle to overcome major challenges such as childcare costs and transportation as they pursue their educational goals.
Sixty-percent of students are 24 years or younger, however the older students bring the average age to 27. Nearly a quarter of students are parents themselves and 60% come from families where neither parent completed a bachelor’s degree.
NCC has a primary goal of empowering students to graduate with a marketable degree or certificate, or to transfer to a four-year institution within three years. With an open admissions policy, not all students who attend NCC enroll with the tools they need to succeed. A key roadblock is that many of NCC’s first-time students have graduated from high school, but are not prepared for college level coursework in math, English or both. Complex factors contribute to this picture. NCC is working hard to address the many hurdles that prevent student success.
As a member of the Achieving the Dream (ATD) National Reform Network since 2005, NCC has researched and implemented best practice strategies to improve student outcomes. Innovations include learning communities, cohort based instruction, academic supports, coaching and pre-college summer bridge programming. These interventions are making a significant difference, as evidenced by NCC’s selection in 2011 by ATD to Leader College status, one of only 15 community colleges nationwide selected to participate in this initiative. NCC earned recertification of Leader College status in 2013 and continues to focus on Student Success initiatives.
The NCC Foundation scholarships have a profound impact on our students. Nationally, most community college students finance their education through a combination of Federal Pell grants and loans. At NCC, our best students can graduate debt free. NCC Foundation scholarships have more than doubled in the past 10 years. In addition to our traditional Spring and Fall semester scholarships, we offered Winter and Summer scholarships for the first time this year so that students can accelerate their graduation!
The Path Scholarship Program, which began in 2012, demonstrates how the NCC Foundation has helped increase student success. Forty-one students, in two cohorts, were selected for Path, which provides participants with individual coaching as well as a grant for full tuition and fees. To date, 25 students have transferred to four-year institutions. When compared with a control group, students in the Path program consistently demonstrate higher graduation rates, grade point averages, and course completion rates – 93% have either graduated from NCC or are still in school pursuing their degree.
Please download the Path Program Overview for more information.
With a 30% increase in scholarship applications this year, the NCC Foundation’s annual funding available from the endowment can no longer cover the immediate scholarship needs of current students at NCC. Please hear our students speak about the impact of their Foundation scholarship on their personal success, as featured in a “Thank You” video available in the: Student Video Showcase
Makerspace to Support Entrepreneurship
The NCC Makerspace has been established as a hub to empower creativity, critical thinking, and inventiveness among students of all academic disciplines. It was initiated during the 2016/2017 school year, and is now in full operation.
Located within the West Campus, the space was developed to leverage the burgeoning maker movement, and is modeled on the “FabLab” approach originated at MIT. It is equipped with a 3-D printer, CNC milling machine, and laser cutter, as well as carpentry and mechanics tools, worktables and ideation whiteboards. These resources can significantly support degree based projects, pure innovation and experimentation, and out-of-the-box collaboration between disparate areas of study and student clubs. This is all facilitated by a partnership with the Fairfield County Makers Guild, whereby that group’s founder leads technical training and project counseling for students accessing the space.
As awareness and engagement with the Makerspace grow, programs and activities will be introduced to further enhance student experiences and capabilities building. These potentially include industry speakers, innovation workshops, competitions, maker fairs, and joint initiatives with makerspaces at other schools. Applicability to entrepreneurship will also be explored, particularly in the vein of opportunities for students to commercialize the output of their projects.
Fear Free Animal Lab
for Veterinary Technology
The Norwalk Community College Veterinary Technology A.S. Degree Program launched in the fall of 2014. The program is designed to respond to the significant industry shortage of veterinary technicians and provide immediate professional and continued educational opportunities for graduates. Graduates will be prepared to work in veterinary hospitals, animal shelters, farms, zoos, pharmaceutical companies, and industry and research laboratories. In September 2016, NCC’s Veterinary Technology Program received accreditation from The American Veterinary Medical Association’s Committee on Veterinary Technical Education and Activities (AVMA-CVTEA).
The two-year accredited program graduated its first class of seven students this past spring and seven more this summer. Our students received multiple job offers prior to graduation and are working in our local community. Currently, there are twenty-eight students enrolled in the program. The program has the potential to grow to full enrollment of forty-eight students.
Eligibility for the program requires completion of prerequisite courses in biology, chemistry, mathematics and basic computing skills. The program requires 70 credits, plus 240 hours of clinical externship experience. Current students fulfill their hands-on experience at veterinary hospitals. Students have participated in thirty-five veterinary facilities in the area in clinical partnerships, including the VCA Referral and Emergency Centers of Norwalk and Shelton, Fairfield Equine Associates, South Wilton Veterinary Group and Yale Animal Resource Center.
Work will soon begin on a retrofit of a dedicated Veterinary Technology place (Live Animal Lab) that will be FearFree® and meet AVMA-CVTEA accreditation standards. Students will be able to gain additional hands-on experience with live animals – animals that belong to students, faculty, staff and local shelters and will visit NCC for the day.
Reaching Excellent Academic Levels
REAL is a hands-on program designed to increase college achievement and completion. Students meet bi-weekly with the Program Coordinator, Denise Rawles-Smith, as well as participate in the REAL Mentoring Matters program. Mentors, who are professionals from the community, and students will have regular one-on-one meetings at least two hours a month on campus.
REAL participants have regular tutoring in math and English through the NCC Tutoring Services Center. In addition, they attend workshops designed to bring their awareness to the skills and mindset needed for success including: study skills, time management, goal setting and career exploration. Students also participate in a Service Learning project. These activities, along with mentoring, help to ensure students’ engagement in the program and their retention at NCC.
This unique program addresses some of the most important factors that can determine student success. Over 60% of high school graduates arrive at Connecticut Community Colleges underprepared for the academic rigor of college, needing remediation in math, English or both. The REAL Program will provide support for low income students, who are the first in their family to attend college, make the transition from high school to NCC and reach their maximum potential.
Unrestricted to Support the Greatest Need
Unrestricted giving provides the Foundation with the flexibility to capitalize on unanticipated opportunities or challenges as they present themselves throughout the year. To be awarded a Foundation grant, the College must submit a written proposal detailing the project goals and activities, how this funding will advance NCC’s strategic plan, measurable outcomes, a timeline and a detailed budget. Recent examples of utilizing unrestricted gifts include:
- • Providing seed money so the College could hire an entrepreneur-in-residence for the 2014-2015 academic year.
• Creating a part-time role in the Foundation to support the College with mentoring and other community volunteer initiatives.
• Supporting a group of eight NCC culinary arts students traveling to France with their professors for academic immersion during spring break.
- • Providing seed money so the College could hire an entrepreneur-in-residence for the 2014-2015 academic year.
Rather than needing to match restricted funds with very specific donor mandates, these unrestricted contributions provide flexibility for the Foundation Board of Directors to review new proposals and approve appropriate spending for NCC’s greatest needs as they occur.
As much as we try to plan ahead for the future, in a public education setting, there are many variables beyond our control. Budget cuts from the State of Connecticut make it virtually impossible not to reduce faculty headcount and limit the critical student support services that NCC can offer. Compromising on academic outcomes is not an option. Unrestricted private funding allows the Foundation to turn on a dime in addressing NCC student needs.