Moving beyond the conversation

A program providing free education aims to address equity gaps

In Ohio, Lake County leaders and Lakeland Community College are collaborating to address the equity concerns of minority and low-income populations.

Their goal is to identify Black and Hispanic residents from underprivileged backgrounds who have a desire to go to college but lack financial or social support. Lakeland Community College will provide free education and job training to these residents.

The community leaders involved in this project represent all areas of the county and include the county prosecutor, NAACP Lake County president, judges, police chiefs, the county public defender, ministers, college leaders and more.

Initially, the group came together as “Begin the Conversation” (BTC) to discuss and address race relations and justice in Lake County as racial issues began to surface nationwide in recent years.

One of the more recent projects taken on by BTC was the establishment of a scholarship for low-income minorities in Lake County. Funding for the scholarship will be administered through The Lakeland Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Lakeland Community College.

“BTC members live and work in our local communities, and we have the connections and ability to identify individuals who would benefit from this program. So, for example, our pastors are sharing the news with their congregations, which in turn spread the word in the community. School superintendents are sharing the word with those in the local school systems who can refer individuals. We are also there to encourage and support the students as they move through the program,” said Vanessa Clapp, Lake County public defender and BTC co-chair. Clapp has a strong affinity for Lakeland and its mission to promote student success. She earned an associate degree at Lakeland, has taught paralegal courses at the college in the past and serves on the paralegal program advisory committee.

Those who complete a college education typically have more job opportunities that can enhance their quality of living. Lake County communities, businesses and organizations will benefit from the talents and skills that these individuals bring as they graduate from college and begin their careers working in the region.

“We will do everything we can do to make them successful and see them through completion of their education,” said Amy Sabath, director for government relations at Lakeland. “The applicant might know what program they are interested in, but if not, we will help guide them through counseling to find the program, degree, certificate or other training that they choose.”

This article was originally posted here.