On Thursday morning, December 6, the Community College of Denver (CCD) Foundation brought together Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and CCD President Everette Freeman to discuss the current state of education in Denver.
To an audience of Denver community leaders, Mayor Michael B. Hancock opened by sharing his experience as a Denver Public Schools (DPS) student. “Growing up in Denver and Denver Public Schools was wonderful,” celebrated Mayor Hancock, “DPS offered me and our community great opportunities.”
Mayor Hancock acknowledged that there are new challenges faced by today’s students, from affordable housing to the rising costs of education. “We must stay ‘woke’ or focused on the issues that face Denver and continue to strive to be better.”
As the leader of one of Denver’s higher education providers, President Dr. Everette Freeman addressed how Community College of Denver is actively working to tackle the challenge of student debt. “Students who attend CCD can save $8,000 in tuition and fees if they earn their associate’s degree with us,” remarked Dr. Freeman when comparing community college costs to 4-year university costs. “If I were a parent, I’d want to save 40 percent on my child’s education.”
CCD also offers its students generous institutional and foundation scholarship opportunities – more than $1.5 million was available last year, including support for Dreamers and immigrant students. More than four hundred CCD’s students received scholarships in 2019, which helped these students focus on school and reduce the burden of working multiple jobs to pay for their education-related bills.
In 2019, CCD started an emergency aid fund to help support its students when unexpected expenses come their way – be it a car repair, a health expense, or sudden life need. The fund gives students access to the resources they need to overcome unforeseen life events so they can continue to realize their educational goals.
CCD student Kelly Shanley shared how much the emergency aid program helped her. “I was run off the road and had to get four new tires,” she reflected. “The college paid for them and I didn’t have to worry about one more bill.”
As a single mom and domestic violence survivor, Kelly was once homeless and striving to find a better life for her children. Kelly, now the president of the community college honors society, Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), has received scholarships and plans to graduate this coming spring with a degree in communications. “CCD is like family and I am proud to call CCD home,” she said in reflection. “The staff at CCD never give up on you. They stick with you and what I’ve received here has been priceless”.
“Community colleges are the ramp to the middle class, and we do everything we can to open the doors for success for our students,” said Dr. Freeman. “One of the ways we’re helping students is by eliminating the cost of books by developing Open Educational Resources (OER).”
CCD successfully launched OER in 15 pilot classes, seeing students’ average book cost savings between $66 and $121 per course. With this initial success, the college aims to implement OER into a complete Associate of Arts degree curriculum, eliminating the out-of-pocket expenses for books.
Mayor Michael B. Hancock and Dr. Freeman both agreed that concurrent enrollment is one of the best programs offered at community colleges. The concurrent enrollment program allows high school students to earn college credits while attending high school at no cost to them. Eighteen percent of all CCD students are concurrent enrollment students. At CCD’s May 2019 graduation, 75 students earned an associate degree or certificate before graduating from high school.
“CiviCO was the perfect location to host a conversation with Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock and CCD President Dr. Everette Freeman,” said CiviCO’s Co-Chairman, Ryan Heckman. “One of CiviCO’s goals is to educate the next generation of community leaders and collaborate on new ideas. We were glad to host this important discussion for the community”.
“We need CCD and the Auraria campus,” said Mayor Hancock. “They are a powerful resource for our community and can help us build our city.”