Apr 2023

Six CSCU Students Receive Funding Support from Aurora’s Enhanced College Success Program

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(Left to Right): Wanda Warshauer, Director, Charter Oak State College’s Women in Transition program; Jenny Steadman, Ph.D., Executive Director, Aurora Women and Girls Foundation; Bobbi Schmidt, Charlotte and Hy Goode Family Fund; Donna Sodipo, YWCA Hartford Region Chief Program Officer; and Carol Hall, Executive Director, Charter Oak State College Foundation. Photo by Defining Studios

The Aurora Women and Girls Foundation has received the largest investment in its history, a four-year $1 million commitment to launch an Enhanced College Success Program, and students throughout the Connecticut State College and Universities system are benefitting.

The Aurora Women and Girls Foundation selected four students from the YWCA Hartford Region’s YW Career Women Program and two students from the Women in Transition program at Charter Oak State College (COSC) as grant recipients in the inaugural year of the Enhanced College Success Program. The six students attend Capital Community College, Charter Oak State College, and Manchester Community College. The new initiative is currently underway this academic semester.

The grant, from the Charlotte and Hy Goode Family Fund Supporting Women’s Potential at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, will provide $250,000 per year to support six students who will receive access to Aurora-funded College Success programs.

This triples Aurora’s annual grant making, which has a substantial impact on advancing opportunities for young women in Hartford and the region. In honor of Charlotte Goode’s 95th Birthday, she and her family worked closely with philanthropic advisors from the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving to establish the new fund.

College Success Programs give women — especially low-income, women of color, and first-generation students — the tools they need to navigate and advance in higher education, which include one-on-one counseling and advising, mentoring, building self-advocacy skills, childcare and transportation. With these barriers removed, students can focus on their studies and have an effective support system help them navigate any additional barriers.

Grantee organizations in the inaugural year of the Enhanced College Success Program were asked to identify students in their existing Aurora-funded College Success program who would benefit from the new enhanced program with increased support for tuition and other living expenses. The program also establishes a new model for achieving higher education and career success for women from underserved circumstances. Students will also receive financial and coaching support beyond traditional scholarships or case management.

"This grant is a game-changer that will provide our students with the wrap-around supports and funding they need to focus on their studies and attain life-changing success,” said Dr. John Maduko, president of Connecticut State Community College. “This grant will provide those women who don't have the means to access higher education with the supports and resources needed to be successful in their studies and in pursuing a career path that will have a positive impact on their families and communities.”

The Enhanced College Success Program also builds on Aurora’s longstanding expertise in collaborating with and providing grants to local nonprofit organizations, driving college success for greater Hartford women who might not otherwise pursue higher education. This significant investment per student will not only have a positive impact on individual success but will also have a positive impact on a student’s children, families and communities.

“The Aurora Women and Girls Foundation, Charlotte Goode, and her family represent the future of philanthropic giving. No longer is it okay to simply meet the needs of our less fortunate neighbor, it is time to acknowledge that financial resources, training, AND higher education (including workforce relevant programs) is imperative to lasting impact. Together, your gift and our program meet the needs, remove the financial, physical, and even psychological pressures while providing the path to career and economic enhancement. Thank you!” said Ed Klonoski, COSC President.

The Women in Transition (WIT) program at CPSC, for example, was established in 2000 to break the cycle of poverty. The WIT program is a proven formula that helps low-income single mothers earn a college degree with no to minimal debt. The program eliminates barriers and covers the cost of tuition, fees, and books, and provides the necessary technology and access. The college platform addresses the home front, childcare, and transportation challenges and offers academic support, tutoring, and coaching. The support and resources strategically remove hindrances, enabling students to focus on their studies and reach degree completion.

Since its inception, WIT has served more than 260 students who have earned 188 college degrees, 132 bachelor’s degrees, and 56 associate degrees. The current cohort of WIT women has an average number of three children per household and an average income of $34,236. Also, 85% of the students are women of color (46% African American, 38% Hispanic, 13% white, and 3% other).

“We, at Charter Oak State College and the Foundation, are beyond grateful for Charlotte Goode and the Aurora Women and Girls Foundation! The generosity of Charlotte and her family has overwhelmed us AND has inspired us to think bigger! Charlotte, her family, and the Aurora Leadership know what keeps women from attending college, completing their degrees, and advancing their careers and economic positions.  This very generous solution was unimaginable (until now) and is simply amazing!” Carol Hall, Executive Director, COSC Foundation.
With the landmark donation, formally announced at Aurora’s Annual Meeting on March 30, an Enhanced College Success program initiative will go further and deeper to encourage life-changing success that can reverberate for generations.

In just under a decade, more than 1,500 college students have participated in local programs coordinated by more than 20 nonprofit organizations that earned financial support from Aurora’s College Success Program. That grant program is continuing, even as the new initiative is underway.

“What I saw time and again in my career as guardian ad litem is that women were working to better themselves, but without the kind of help this program offers, there were too many barriers,” said Charlotte Goode. “If you give wrap around services and case management and mentors, it makes all the difference in the world. Once they graduate, they can get better jobs and support their families. Their children will watch them succeed and higher education and success becomes something that seems possible for the kids, too.”

“Aurora is inspired by the power and potential of women and girls. We imagine a world where every woman, every girl, has what she needs to thrive —a nd then we work to bring the resources to build that world,” said Jenny Steadman, Ph.D., Executive Director of Aurora Women and Girls Foundation.

“Charlotte shares that vision, a vision held by Aurora’s community of donors and supporters, which knows that when we provide women with opportunities, they will change the world for themselves, their families, their community, and all of us.”

“YWCA Hartford Region is honored to be a recipient of Enhanced College Success Program funding. This significant commitment will provide four YW Career Women program participants with financial resources and life coaching services to support college completion and sustainable career journeys,” said Donna Sodipo, Chief Program Officer, YWCA Hartford Region.

Even in its early stages, the impact of the new Enhanced College Success Program was recently underscored by a participating student:

“I am honored to be selected for such a blessing. This blessing is more than I could have ever thought of or prayed for. For such a dark time of my life to turn into such a bright, positive one shows the God I serve is faithful. This opportunity will allow me to get out of debt, SAVE, and stop over-drafting my account and living paycheck to paycheck. It will allow me to be present with my children and stress less. The amount of gratitude I feel cannot be justified by words. I can see a brighter future ahead for my children and I. Thank you does not feel like enough. We will forever be grateful for this chance.”