MLK Day of Service Kicks off ’50 Acts of Kindness’

by Alana J. Mauger

BLOG DSCF1253Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) students, faculty, staff, alumni and community supporters joined thousands of individuals and organizations across the nation in honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Jan. 20 for an annual day of service.

Close to 150 participants – the largest turnout since introducing MCCC’s annual college-wide day of service four years ago – volunteered at three sites in Montgomery County: Habitat for Humanity ReStore in East Norriton, Elmwood Park Zoo in Norristown, and Olivet Boys & Girls Club in Pottstown.

“We’re impressed with the turnout,” said Jenna Klaus, assistant director of civic and community engagement. “This is the first year we opened it up to alumni and partnered with an outside organization [AllForGood.org] for sign ups. As a result, we had several community volunteers join us, including 30 students and staff from Penn Christian Academy.”

In addition to honoring King, the day of service also officially kicked off the College’s “50 Acts of Kindness” initiative as part of its 50th anniversary celebration.

“In celebration of our 50th anniversary, we’re organizing 50 acts of community service throughout 2014 – one for every year since the College has been in existence,” explained Klaus.

According to Klaus, more than 35 activities are already on the books, with more being planned by MCCC’s student clubs and organizations.

To learn more about MCCC’s 50th Anniversary activities, visit mc3.edu/50.

For information about civic and community engagement at MCCC, email getinvolved@mc3.edu.

Photos by Alana J. Mauger, Megan Sneeringer, Diane Vandyke and Stephanie Wittig

46 Graduates Complete Accelerated GED Program

Student speaker Vanessa Perry addresses her fellow graduates. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Student speaker Vanessa Perry addresses her fellow graduates. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

by Alana J. Mauger

Forty-six students earned their General Education Diplomas (GED) during Montgomery County Community College’s semi-annual graduation ceremony on Oct. 16 at the West Campus in Pottstown.

The graduates were part of the College’s rigorous five-week program that is among the most accelerated in the state. According to GED Program Coordinator /Instructor Raymond Ricketts, 828 students have completed the program since its inception in 2006 – an 84 percent graduation rate.

The Montgomery County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) funds the program, which is free to Montgomery County residents. The fee for out-of-county students is $100 and includes the course and GED exam.

During the ceremony, MCCC alumnus and Alumni Hall of Fame inductee Scott Rau, Pottstown, provided the keynote address. He encouraged graduates to “make a commitment to self,” ask for help when needed, and give back, noting that “the most valuable resource you can give is your time.”

“You don’t have to stop. Everything is a milestone; everything is a step forward,” said Rau, who is senior vice president and director of mobile payments with Chase, and is also a member of the College’s Foundation Board of Directors.

Providing the student address, graduate Vanessa Perry, Pottstown, explained how a “fighting spirit” helped her to persist through the program in spite of obstacles that included her husband’s death.

“I’ve been trying to earn my GED since 2002,” shared Perry, who is already enrolled in MCCC classes this semester. “No matter what people say and what challenges come your way, only you can change your future.”

Marisol Lezcano, executive director of the Montgomery County WIB and deputy director of commerce, closed the ceremony by challenging graduates to “be daring” and go after their dreams.

“Success always comes when preparation meets opportunity,” she said.

To learn more about the GED program or GED testing services, visit mc3.edu/adm-fin-aid/ged.

GED graduates stand with faculty, staff and community supporters. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

GED graduates stand with faculty, staff and community supporters. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

51 Cadets Graduate from Municipal Police Academy

photos by John Welsh

by Alana J. Mauger

Fifty-one cadets graduated from Montgomery County Community College’s Municipal Police Academy on July 17 during a ceremony held at the College’s Science Center Theater, 340 DeKalb Pike, Blue Bell.

In what has become an academy tradition, Chester County Deputy Sheriff and academy alumnus Wayne T. Johnson sang the National Anthem to begin the ceremony.

Steven A. Beck, coordinator of school safety with the Montgomery County Department of Public Safety, and Paul N. Leo, district justice, both instructors at the academy, were selected by classes 1203 and 1301 to give keynote addresses.

During his remarks, Beck, who serves as the firearms coordinator for the academy, praised members of class 1203 for their “commitment, courage and character.”

“Through hours of training and enthusiasm, you have shown the desire to be well rounded law enforcement officers,” said Beck. “Never lose sight of who you are or where you came from. Remain committed to your decision to embark on a law enforcement career.”

Leo, who served 28 years with the Upper Dublin Police Department and 13 years as district justice, encouraged cadets to maintain balance in their lives, by “cultivating relationships outside of police work.”

Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr., County Deputy Chief Detective Samuel Gallen and County Sheriff Eileen Behr also attended the ceremony, along with representatives from East Norriton, Upper Merion, Lower Merion, Upper Moreland and Plymouth Township police departments.

Earning the highest GPA in their respective classes, Cadet Sgt. Michelle Geiger, Allentown, and Cadet Cpl. Christopher Moser, Norristown, offered remarks on behalf of their fellow graduates.

Geiger referred to members of class 1203 as “family – more than a team.”

“You’ve taught me that being successful is about meeting your goals, no matter how big they are,” she said.

In his remarks, Moser praised the quality of the academy’s instructors, noting that most are senior law enforcement professionals.

“The most important thing we learned is to have the confidence to do this job,” he shared.

Academy Director Frank Williar presented an Award of Merit to Cadet Capt. Craig Bald, Conshohocken, who served as the commanding officer over all three classes during his academy tenure.

“Very seldom do I give the responsibility of commanding the entire academy to a cadet, but in this case, I did, and the return was tenfold,” shared Williar.

Other honors presented during the ceremony included the Leadership Award to Cadet Lt. Holly Donohue, Philadelphia, and Cadet Lt. Joseph Gary, Montgomeryville, and the Spirit of Distinction Award to Andrew Ammaturo, Willow Grove, and Cadet Cpl. Jerry Ploskon, East Norriton.

Robert McCole, Lafayette Hill, and Cadet Sgt. Michael Mitchell, Pottstown, earned the Sgt. James R. Miller Marksmanship Award in their respective classes. The award is presented in memory of Upper Dublin Police Sergeant Jim Miller, who died in an automobile accident while on duty in 2004.

Cadets from class 1203 attended the academy part time, Monday through Thursday evenings for 42 weeks. Graduates include Andrew Ammaturo, Willow Grove; Steve Bailey, Collegeville; Holly Donohue, Philadelphia; Michelle Geiger, Allentown; Michael Iller, Bensalem; Timothy Kern, Hatboro; Jen Kobe, North Wales; Stephanie Kolb, Souderton; Robert McCole, Lafayette Hill; Patrick McLaughlin, Bethlehem; Ed Miller, Horsham; Andrew Naimoli, Wayne; Tom O’Neill, Philadelphia; James Potoka, Newtown; Michael Sheehan, King of Prussia; Steve Valdez, Allentown; Christopher Yuhasz, Harleysville.

Cadets from class 1301 attended the academy full time, Monday through Friday for 22 weeks. Graduates include Sakyi Amoh, Wyncote; Joseph Austin, Norristown; Craig Bald, Conshohocken; Richard Binder, Warminister; Andrew Bixler, Bucktown; Kyle Brierley, Yardley; Nicholas Carabello, Springfield; Margitta Delaney, Pottstown; Sean Franchini, Lower Providence; Michael Frugoli, Warwick; Shane Galette, Conshohocken; Joseph Gary, Montgomeryville; Brian Harrison, Souderton; Marc Lee-Newton, Wyncote; Brendan McCann, Royersford; Michael McFadden, Media; Michael Maguire, Glenside; Michael Mitchell, Pottstown; Christopher Moser, Norristown; Josephine Murray, Philadelphia; Charles Myrsiades, Plymouth Meeting; Nicole Navarra, Warrington; Christopher Noga, Elkins Park; Jerry Ploskon, East Norriton; Justin Polisi, Philadephia; Larissa Reggetto, Effort; Donald Reilly, Norristown; Royce Repka, Lansdale; Matthew Rice, Philadelphia; Megan Rigous, Warrington; Michael Rosa, Conshohocken; George Seifert, Harleysville; Matthew Shade, Souderton; Joseph Wood, Green Lane.

Montgomery County Community College, in conjunction with the state training commission, operates the Municipal Police Academy at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Campus, 1175 Conshohocken Road, Conshohocken.

The academy has been the training ground for approximately 3,400 cadets with a consistent graduation rate of more than 90 percent. The 800-hour curriculum allows successful students to articulate up to 15 credit hours toward an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice Studies.

New Study Touts College’s Impact on Students, Economy

by Alana J. Mauger

Montgomery County Community College (MCCC) students will attain a 16.3 percent return on the time and money they invest in their MCCC education over the course of their lives, according results from a new economic impact study authorized by the College.

The same study also reveals that every dollar of state and local tax money invested today in MCCC will yield a cumulative $21.60 in benefits that accrue to all Pennsylvania residents in terms of added taxable income and avoided social costs.

These are some of the results from a study developed by Education Modeling Specialists, Inc. (EMSI), which worked with MCCC to determine the tangible return on investment that an associate’s degree has for graduates and taxpayers.

“Community colleges can anecdotally point to the many ways education adds value to our communities and to society as a whole. But results of a study like this one are so important because they offer tangible evidence that we are improving the quality of life in the County and Commonwealth, not just through education, but also by being strong, economically focused and socially responsible citizens and business partners,” said MCCC President Dr. Karen A. Stout.

For example, through the earnings of faculty and staff, combined with the College’s operating and capital expenditures, MCCC adds a net $52.6 million to the Montgomery County economy each year, according to the study. In addition, the report finds that, based on historical enrollment and credits completed by students over a 30-year period, MCCC instruction adds an estimated $309.8 million in income to the County.

Altogether, MCCC adds of an average $362.4 million in income – representing approximately 0.6 percent of the total Montgomery County budget – to the local economy each year.

MCCC students also expand Pennsylvania’s economic base through the higher incomes they earn as a result of their education – especially since an estimated 99 percent of MCCC graduates live/work in the Commonwealth. When combined with the increased productivity of businesses that employ MCCC students and graduates, an estimated $80.5 million in taxable income is added to the Pennsylvania economy each year.

Decreased social costs are another economic benefit. As students achieve higher levels of education, they are less likely to smoke, abuse alcohol, draw welfare and unemployment benefits, or commit crimes. This translates into an estimated $3 million in Pennsylvania taxpayer savings annually.

MCCC students, themselves, realize the most obvious benefit from higher education. Someone with an associate’s degree in Montgomery County earns, on average, $15,900 more per year than someone with a only a high school diploma. Also, for every dollar students invest in their MCCC education, they can expect to earn a cumulative $6 in higher future income over their careers.

The EMSI report is based on data sources that include, but are not limited to, MCCC 2011-2012 academic and financial reports; industry and employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; earnings and demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau; and a variety of studies and surveys relating education to social behavior.

Visit mc3.edu/economic-report to view an executive summary of the report, as well as a data fact sheet.

For information on EMSI, visit economicmodeling.com.

Student Patricia Piazza Named 2013 Newman Civic Fellow

BLOG tricia_piazza

photo by Matt Carlin

by Neree Aron-Sando

Patricia Piazza has brought honor to Montgomery County Community College, funding to a child advocacy center headquartered in Blue Bell, and support to the College’s Criminal Justice Club.

Piazza, of Eagleville, a non-traditional student at Montgomery County Community College, was named a Newman Civic Fellow for 2013.

Montgomery County Community College President Dr. Karen Stout and Dr. Chris Przemieniscki, assistant professor of Criminal Justice and advisor to the student Criminal Justice and Fire Science clubs, nominated Piazza for the national award.

The Newman Civic Fellows Award honors college student leaders nationwide who inspire others and have worked to find solutions for challenges facing the community, according to its page on the Campus Compact website. “Through service, research, and advocacy, Newman Civic Fellows are making the most of their college experiences to better understand themselves, the root causes of social issues, and effective mechanisms for creating lasting change.”

Piazza, Przemieniscki said, has been one of the key organizers of the Hogs and Honeys Valentine’s Fundraiser Party to benefit Mission Kids in Montgomery County. Mission Kids is an organization that offers a team response to allegations of child abuse in a dedicated, child-friendly setting to achieve justice for child victims and promote their physical and emotional well being.  The mission of Mission Kids is to help the victims of child abuse in Montgomery County begin to heal, he explained.

“Tricia has strived to go beyond direct service in order to seek long-term solutions for this serious and troubling social issue,” Przemieniscki wrote. “She has been instrumental in . . . helping generate interest from community members, businesses, and advocate groups to help support this annual fundraiser around Valentine’s Day. Her involvement and leadership within Kickstart has led to the gradual expansion of this benefit, which started in 2004 with only 30 guests, to over 600 guests attending this year’s event. Not only has she reached out to the community for financial contributions; it has been her mission to educate and promote the goals of Mission Kids.”

“I am proud and humbled to be the recipient of The Newman Civic Fellows Award,” Piazza said. “I am pleased that it brings more attention to Mission Kids of Montgomery County and I am proud to be a part of my organization, Kickstart.”

Piazza emphasized that she does not work directly with the children and she is not a Mission Kids employee. “We raise money every year, and we donate it to Mission Kids. Our dedication and passion for their cause and the work that they do are obvious, and we match it with the same shared values and dedication. It is a great cause and I am proud to be a part of it. If every dollar we raise helps a child heal from the horror of abuse, then we will continue to raise money and awareness in our neighborhood, community and schools.”

At the College, Piazza is vice president of the Criminal Justice Club and has inspired her fellow criminal justice students to take an active role in the benefit, volunteering their services that night to help with the event, Przemieniscki wrote.

“My first year at the College, I became involved with the Criminal Justice Club and saw all the wonderful work they did to further the education of the students with ‘real life’ events that are relevant to their major and to the workforce they are seeking to become involved in,” Piazza said.

She was the recipient of a James E. Carroll Criminal Justice Scholarship award through the College’s Foundation, and she maintains a 4.0 GPA.

“I chose Montgomery County Community College because of its reputation for being a great college that accommodates diversity,” Piazza said.

Piazza lives in Eagleville and works for the Transportation Security Administration.

“Upon graduating, I intend to finish my bachelor’s degree and am strongly considering Penn State Abington. I presently work as an officer for TSA and plan to explore other positions in the Department of Homeland Security,” she said.

Przemieniscki believes that Piazza’s advocacy for organizations like Mission Kids will stay with her throughout her career. “While the fundraising benefit is only once a year, her leadership, passion, and desire to stamp out child abuse and help support the goals of Mission Kids has become a lifelong endeavor,” he wrote.

Newman Civic Fellows are recommended by college and university presidents to acknowledge motivation and ability in public leadership. Newman Civic Fellows awards are made in memory of Frank Newman, who dedicated his life to creating systemic change through education reform.

Cadets Graduate From Municipal Police Academy

by Diane VanDyke

Thirty police cadets graduated from Montgomery County Community College’s Municipal Police Academy on Nov. 14 during a ceremony held at the College’s Science Center Auditorium, 340 Dekalb Pike, Blue Bell.

The graduates of Class 1202 included Stephen Andrews (Richboro), Gregory Borgmann (Warminster), Raymond Brook (Maple Glen), Michael Choiniere (Gilbertsville), David Clouser (Quakertown), Richard Dean (Yardley), Shalako Drabinksy (Chalfont), Kevin Furman (Newtown Square), Eric Honick (Conshohocken), Jason Howell (Limerick), Erik Iochum (Abington), Joseph Jennings (Churchville), Salvatore LaMantia (Yardley), Michael Lanzafame (Philadelphia), Bryan Lukens (Whitemarsh), Scott Lukens (Plymouth Meeting), David Malischewski (Perkasie), Joseph O’Mara (Lower Gwynedd), Stephen Pimm (Ambler), Michael Pinciotti (Newtown), Benjamin Romanowicz (Bensalem), Benjamin Scott (Pennsburg), Brian Seibert (Worcester), Jennifer Smith (Abington), Kevin South (Morrisville), Rafael Stoppazzollo (Philadelphia), Michael Theiss (Tuckerton, N.J.), Michael Verrillo (Warrington), Anthony Vogel (Horsham) and Zachary Wise (Phoenixville).

Valedictorian Sgt. Stephen Pimm earned the Sgt. James R. Miller Marksmanship award, and Lt. Bryan Lukens earned the Leadership Award. Sgt. Richard Dean was awarded the Spirit of Distinction Award for his teamwork, discipline, dedication and leadership.

The ceremony started with a moment of silence in respect for fallen Plymouth Township Police Officer Bradley Fox, an alumnus of the Police Academy. A chaired draped with his jacket bearing his name was placed next to the podium during the ceremony in his memory

Guest speakers for the evening included Sgt. Ken Hawthorn of the Warrington Township Police Department and Montgomery County Commissioner Bruce L. Castor Jr. Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman also attended.

In his remarks, Hawthorn told the cadets to “be firm but be fair,” and not to dwell on mistakes.

“Remember, your patrol car has a big windshield and a small rearview mirror,” he said. “What’s in front of you is more important than what’s behind you.”

Castor reminded the cadets to “do the right thing” when the moment calls for it. “Being a police officer,” he said, “is not a profession but a calling, a calling to do the right thing for the people of the community.”

During the ceremony, the McGowan family presented the Chief John J. McGowan III Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $2,500 to Orwigsburg Borough Police Officer Matthew Fogarty of Royersford.  Fogarty graduated from the Police Academy in July 2012 and also serves as an emergency medical technician.

When receiving the scholarship, Fogarty thanked the McGowan family, telling them, “Chief McGowan was the leader I dream of becoming.”

Chief McGowan started his law enforcement career in 1974 with the Lower Moreland Police Department. While working there, he graduated from the FBI National Academy and earned his master’s degree in Criminal Justice from St. Joseph’s University. After his retirement in 1992, he became the police chief and public safety director for East Norriton Township, a position he held until June 18, 2010, when he was involved in a fatal motorcycle accident.

In addition to his law enforcement career, McGowan was an academic instructor in the Criminal Justice program at Montgomery County Community College. He also served as past president of the Montgomery County Police Chiefs’ Association and the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development Association and was instrumental in establishing the Mission Kids Child Advocacy Center.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Academy Director Frank A. Williar praised Class 1202, stating that the members of this class are definitely people he would recommend to safeguard his family and the community.

Montgomery County Community College, in conjunction with the state training commission, operates the Municipal Police Academy at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Campus, 1175 Conshohocken Road, Conshohocken, PA 19428.

The Academy has been the training ground for approximately 3,200 cadets with a consistent graduation rate of more than 96 percent. The 800-hour curriculum allows successful students to articulate up to 15 credit hours toward an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice.

Williar, a 1974 Police Academy graduate, was hired as the Academy Director in 2005. The Academy is certified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through the Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission.

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Photos by John Welsh

Op-Ed: Proposed Budget Cuts Threaten Community College Access

by Dr. Karen A. Stout, President, Montgomery County Community College

“Now More than Ever” — This is the title of Montgomery County Community College’s 2012 Annual Report to the community.  It is a title reflective of the growing importance of community colleges, across this country, in being part of the solution to addressing workforce development and educational attainment gaps that are holding back the Country’s economic recovery.

It is this “now more than ever” need for community colleges that makes Wednesday night’s recommendation by the County’s CFO to the Montgomery County Commissioners to cut the allocation to the College by 25% — $5.25 million — so stunning and so potentially devastating to our community and its future viability.

In 1964, when the College was founded, the Montgomery County Commissioners were among the first in the Commonwealth to see and invest in the potential of this new invention –community colleges. Those early Commissioners committed to funding the operating and capital needs of the local community college. And, as a result of nearly 50 years of consistent and stable investment, our College has grown to be among the best in our nation, a hub for County workforce development and culture and recreation, and graduating our community’s future entrepreneurs, technologists, first responders, dental hygienists, nurses, teachers, doctors, lawyers and legislators.

Over the past decade, the County’s operating share of our budget dropped from 30% to 25%.   Student tuition now comprises 50% of our budget. Ten years ago, students shouldered 35.8% of our operating costs.  The County’s announced cut will move their contribution to less than 20%, and student share will exceed 50%. The last time the County funded the College’s operating budget at this level was in 2002-2003, when we enrolled 9,000 fall credit students. Last fall, the College enrolled nearly15,000 credit students. County investment per student resident citizen has been cut nearly in half over the last decade.

County funding is essential to our community’s viability. It preserves affordable access for so many residents where Montgomery County Community College is a first choice, a second choice, perhaps a last choice, to gain access, or perhaps to stay in our country’s middle class.  It is no accident that 95% of our graduates live and work in this region.  Our students are part of the fabric of our communities and they remain part of that fabric as alumni.

This is a devastating cut – a cut that the College will manage through a combination of cost reduction strategies, including program and service cuts and careful management of personnel costs.  Unfortunately, a cut of this magnitude can’t be managed by cuts alone and will require an increase in tuition and fees. This increase could shut out financial access for residents who most need the College’s affordable programs. As one graduate noted in a recent speech to her fellow students, “One tank of gas can mean the difference between completing a degree or dropping out of college.”

Our Board of Trustees is working to develop a final 2012-2013 budget that puts the preservation of student financial access as a first priority, while also ensuring that we are capable of fulfilling our core mission. Your voice is important in helping us to work with the County to ensure strong public support as we move forward.

County Maintains College Funding

You did it! In unprecedented numbers, you – the students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends of Montgomery County Community College – mobilized to tell our County Commissioners to maintain their funding support to the College for the 2011-2012 academic year.

Because of your collective voices, the Commissioners voted this morning to maintain their funding at the level they agreed to when the College’s 2011-2012 operating budget was approved in June. As a result, spring 2012 tuition will remain stable at the current rate.

Now is the perfect time to register for spring semester classes if you haven’t already done so. Classes start on Jan. 18. Returning students can register for classes online via WebAdvisor, by mail or in person at the College’s campuses. For more information, visit www.mc3.edu/admissions/registration.

THANK YOU for making your voices heard and for advocating on behalf of Montgomery County Community College’s students and community. Have a happy and healthy winter break.

OP-ED: Proposed Cuts to the Community College Are Short Sighted

by Dr. Karen A. Stout
President, Montgomery County Community College

Across Montgomery County, dentists’ offices, doctors’ offices, hospitals, biotech firms, banks, schools, fire houses, police stations, restaurants, computer firms, and legislative offices are filled with Montgomery County Community College graduates.  Based on the results of a recent graduate follow-up survey, if not for Montgomery County Community College, at least half of these graduates would not have continued the education that led to their employment.  Eighty percent of those graduates cite the College’s affordable tuition as their reason for attendance.

The Calendar Year 2012 budget proposed by the Commissioners could shut out hundreds of residents from pursuing their educational dreams and career and employment goals.

In today’s economic climate, we are all carefully examining the value of a good or service before making an investment.  The Montgomery County Commissioners are performing this due diligence right now, as they work to craft the County’s 2012 budget investments.  Like all investors, they must consider the potential return on taxpayer dollars as they make difficult decisions that will impact the economic health of our County for years to come.

The proposed budget includes a $2.5 million mid-year cut to the College, taking the College’s County operating appropriation back to 2007 levels when we served 24 percent fewer students.  It reduces the County’s share of the budget from 25 percent to 21 percent, despite the County’s agreement with the College, dating back to 1964, to meet its local sponsorship commitment with the funding of 33 percent of the College’s budget.

The cut comes after the Commissioners voted in June to allocate County Calendar Year 2012 funds to support the College’s academic year 2011-2012. As a result of this commitment, the College set its 2011-2012 budgets, set tuition rates for students, and made commitments to run academic programs to meet workforce needs.

To fill the funding gap, the College will need to raise tuition for spring semester students by as much as $11 per credit hour, make painful cuts in academic programs that are important to students and our workforce partners, limit access to classes by running only the most highly enrolled course sections, limit community use of our facilities, limit free tuition opportunities for seniors, and cut personnel in critical student success service areas.

These cuts come at a time when our community needs us the most.  We are an economic and opportunity engine. Our new programs in areas such as nuclear engineering technology, waste water management training, table games training, and Citrix Academy certification are filling critical workforce shortages.  Our new transfer agreements, most recently with Bryn Mawr College, are bolstering pathways to the baccalaureate degree for thousands of students unable to afford four full years of university tuition.

Like students across the country, our students are financially strapped.  More than 30 percent are on Pell grants, earning an average family income of $13,532, below the federal poverty line for a family of two ($14,710) and four ($22,350).  More of our students are adult students, unexpectedly returning to college as unemployed workers.

Most important for our community and our graduates, we know that a Montgomery County Community College degree pays off. The average income of an associate’s degree recipient in Montgomery County at his or her career midpoint is $61,400 – 35 percent higher than someone with only a high school diploma. Throughout their working careers, our graduates see a $4.40 return for every $1 they invested in college tuition.

And the return on investment does not stop there. Their investment as employees and taxpaying residents expands our regional tax base by approximately $81.1 million, and the state and county will avoid $3.1 million in social costs per year as a result of savings associated with improved health, reduced crime, and reduced welfare and unemployment. Taxpayers, too, see a cumulative return on investment of $2.20 for every $1 invested by the state and county governments over the course of our graduates’ working careers.

Montgomery County is stronger because of its local community college and because of the County’s historically strong investment in our mission.  Now is the wrong time to shut off opportunity for thousands of students — our future workforce — and further hamper the County’s short and long term economic viability.