Amarillo College and Martha’s Home, a shelter for homeless single women and mothers with children, are joining forces to empower the Home’s adult residents as they strive to escape poverty by pursing certificates and degrees through AC’s Adult Education and Literacy (AEL) program.
Leaders of AC and Martha’s Home will gather at 5:30 p.m. Monday, June 27th to cement the partnership and unveil the Home’s new “Present Needs—Future Success” campaign, which is already garnering meaningful local support.
A signing ceremony will take place on the second floor of the College Union Building on AC’s Washington and will be attended by some of the eight residents of Martha’s home who are currently (or soon will be) students at AC.
Also attending will be top leadership from two of the campaign’s initial benefactors – Betenbough Homes, and the Paul F. and Virginia J. Engler Foundation.
Those entities and First Baptist Church have combined thus far to contribute more than $75,000 in seed money to the “Present Needs—Future Success” campaign, according to Sharon Miner, director of development for Martha’s Home.
“What we’re creating through this campaign is a fund, a support system, that empowers our ladies to overcome barriers to attending classes at Amarillo College, like when a car breaks down or they can’t afford day care,” Miner said.
“A college education can be the difference between staying in poverty and coming out of it, but our ladies are homeless and don’t always have supports they can turn to when life barriers get in the way of going to school.
“We are so thankful for the generous support of those who’ve given us the seed money on which we hope to build a support system that will serve our residents in perpetuity,” she said. “And we are extremely appreciative of Amarillo College and the AEL program that is assessing our women for college readiness, accepting them into the College, and helping them find a pathway to success.”
Miner says she anticipates that more and more residents of Martha’s Home will take advantage of opportunities afforded them at AC as the campaign flourishes and the inaugural students achieve success.
Embedded in the AEL program at AC is an initiative called Career Ready You, which is designed to serve students seeking high school equivalency (GED) credentials, or English as a Second Language (ESL) mastery. What makes this initiative unique, however, is that it works by placing students simultaneously in GED or ESL classes and in college-credit classes leading to certificates of completion in areas of career interest. These certificates also serve as a launching pad to associate degrees and more.
Additionally, Career Ready You students are supported throughout their academic pursuits by career navigators, who provide individual mentoring and instructional assistance.
AC President Russell Lowery-Hart says partnering with Martha’s Home to ensure its residents have access to AC’s full range of resources and services was an easy decision to make for a College that has developed a nationally recognized Culture of Caring targeting removal of poverty barriers.
“At Amarillo College, we are focused on improving student success through systemic and cultural change centered on one word: Love,” Lowery-Hart said. “We have come to know how pervasive poverty and its barriers are for students.
“Love demands action in the face of poverty, and the arms of this College will forever be open to the women served so nobly by Martha’s Home. We welcome them, we support them, and we can’t wait to see them fully succeed.”
AC, which in 2021 was named one of the nation’s Top 5 community colleges by the Aspen Institute College Excellence Program, has again been named a finalist and is in the running for the 2023 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence.