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COCC and Thrive Announce Partnership

COCC teams up with local nonprofit to serve students in need

A recent survey conducted at more than 120 colleges nationwide, with the aim of pinpointing issues of housing and food insecurity among students, found that 41 percent of 602 respondents at Central Oregon Community College (COCC) had faced food insecurity in the prior month. Some 22 percent had struggled with homelessness or unreliable housing in the previous year.

But a newly forged partnership between COCC and the nonprofit Thrive Central Oregon will work to connect students in need with a range of local resources, district-wide, from housing and health care to food banks and disability benefits.

The one-year pilot project, made possible by funding from the Keyes Trust, will include hiring a part-time resource specialist, supervised by Thrive Central Oregon, to be based at the Bend campus beginning this fall and serve students at all four of COCC’s campuses. The position will also integrate into the college’s office of student life to create a hand-in-hand approach to reaching those in need.

“COCC has long been looking for a solution to help students facing these hardships,” explained Alicia Moore, vice president of student affairs. “Thrive brings not just an understanding of the available resources, but a comprehension of the issues involved and an overt commitment to equity. This partnership will be a significant source of support for our students.”

Sarah Kelley, the founder and executive director of Thrive Central Oregon, said that the group's referral services essentially broker connections to existing resources. “Our region offers a breadth of assistance for those experiencing challenges such as financial insecurity and housing instability, and we can help shore up lives by directing them to this dedicated help,” she said. “We're very excited to collaborate with the college on this.”

The project's impact will be evaluated in spring 2021 for potential continuation.

COCC also participates in the State of Oregon's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program’s (SNAP) Training and Employment Program, offers emergency student loans, operates a student-run food bank, and serves as a 211 hotline sponsor.

For more information, contact Andrew Davis, director of student life, at 541-383-7592 or apdavis@cocc.edu.

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