Tuesday, March 29, 2016


MTCC AmeriCorps member Noah Davis, center.
I've served with the Montana College Access Network's steering committee for just about five years. I remember hearing about this diverse coalition of folks involved with college access and success from K-12, Higher Ed., Financial Aid, the TRiO and Montana Aspire Community, GEAR Up folks, etc. and wondering about how it all worked. What struck me at the time was that because Campus Compact is a network of campuses advancing the higher ed's public purposes, college access and success offered some great potential for alignment, and strong big picture support from the Compact movement. The MCAN Conference just celebrated it's fifth birthday last week, and well over 100 attendees from all corners on Montana made the trek out, and made me want to reflect a little.

MCAN Past Chair Michelle Christianson
Completing post secondary education is the one tried and true way for folks to improve their earning potential, and finding careers that sustain them and their families. I've learned a lot from working with MCAN, mostly about the importance of vigorously opening the doors of higher education to first generation and low-income students, and about the Lumina Foundation's Goal 2025, which talks about the importance of degree attainment in an evolving labor market, and highlights the need of states to respond comprehensively in order to position more citizens for careers. I've been steadily inspired by folks like Student Assistance Foundation's Kelly Cresswell and Rhonda Safford and Montana Tech's Michelle Christianson who tirelessly have kept MCAN a priority for so many of us. They helped pull together a conference that convenes all kinds of access and success stakeholders, and that uses collective impact model to align the work in the college access space. Michelle was just recognized for her years of service with MCAN, as steering committee chair, conference chair, and now past chair.

Since Campus Compact began working with MCAN, we at Campus Compact have done a number of things to directly support this work:

1) We've provided AmeriCorps VISTAs to support MCAN's statewide work. Both Molly Wilkins and Amber Rhodes served from Helena, with MCAN helping to build capacity for MCAN, which as of today is official 501C3.

2) We've supported the Local College Access work that Montana Tech and Bitterroot College have undertaken with VISTAs like Cody LaBean and Kate Johnson.

3) We've placed VISTA Summer Associates with TRiO Upward Bound programs, like that at the University of Montana.

And finally, last fall we launched an AmeriCorps state program with the support of the Montana office of Community Service. This program currently has leaders serving with Dawson Community College, MSU Northern, Montana Tech and Bitterroot College. And we currently are recruiting for positions in Great Falls, Billings and in Crow Agency. We're proud of the work Campus Compact has done in the college access and success space, and are happy to answer questions and lend a hand if you're interested in partnering. Email or call me (406-243-5175), don't hesitate.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


30 Years of Campus Compact!
This is an important week for those of us that work in higher education: just thirty years ago, three campuses came together to for the first higher ed. consortium dedicated to educating students for civic and social responsibility, and advancing the public purposes of colleges and universities. Thirty years on here in 2016 this movement is strong. Over 1100 campuses nationally are part of Campus Compact, including seventeen great Montana campuses. From Flathead Valley Community College, to Fort Peck Community College, and MSU Billings, Carroll College, Rocky, Little Big Horn College and a dozen more.

Each of these institutions, at the CEO level, have made a formal commitment to the importance of community engagement, service learning, and public service from higher education. From the most episodic of volunteer experience, to the most embedded of service learning, our campuses walk that walk! Students don't go to school with the expectation of being leaders at some later point in time, they come in with the expectation that their education will be immediately relevant, that they will be challenged to apply what they learn, and that while in college, they will be called upon to make their communities, and broader world a better place.

In addition to the robust national support for the work of Campus Compact, here in Montana we're proud to have a strong network office whose charge is to support the campus-level work with everything at our disposal. This summer, we'll convene our advisory committee for its first in-person Network Meeting June 8 and 9. Currently, we're seeking proposals to place Montana college students in summer service positions with MTCC's AmeriCorps and VISTA programs.

If you're staff or faculty member, or campus administrator, or a student at a Compact institution, please take a minute this week to consider what you're part of! It's an amazing thing, and we are humbled to work with you.


The MTCC Network Office Staff

Friday, March 4, 2016


For the past ten years, Campus Compact has gathered triathletes in western Montana for its annual Garden City Triathlon. This event helps Campus Compact fund its Civic Engagement Scholarships. These scholarships, awarded to exemplary Montana college students and community volunteers leverage campus funds, and help spotlight the great work of college students.

We are excited to bring on an excellent intern and current University of Montana Physical Therapy student, Kathryn Triplett to help organize this year's race. We also work with Missoula's awesome triathlon club, Team Stampede to hold the race.

As always, MTCC is seeking racers, sponsors and volunteers for the event. Please contact Kathryn for details.

This year's race happens on Saturday, June 4th at Frenchtown Pond State Park, just outside of Missoula. Here's the registration page for the race, we hope to see you there.