Daily News

Holyoke Community College, I Found Light Against All Odds Sign Pact

HOLYOKE — Representatives from Holyoke Community College (HCC) and the Springfield-based nonprofit I Found Light Against All Odds met on April 30 to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work together to increase educational and workforce training opportunities for young women at risk for homelessness.

HCC President George Timmons and Stefan Davis, CEO, president, and founder of I Found Light Against All Odds signed the agreement and offered brief remarks.

I Found Light Against All Odds provides support services for young women to help address social and economic issues that can lead to poverty and homelessness. Specifically, by signing this MOU, HCC and the foundation agreed to work together to develop support services for area women, age 18-20, to attain safe housing and career opportunities through education and training.

According to the MOU, Hampden County demonstrates a poverty rate of 16.9%, which is higher than the national average of 11.5%. Meanwhile, the poverty rates in Springfield and Holyoke are even higher at 25.5% and 26%, respectively. At the same time, research shows that many community-college students in Massachusetts experience hunger and/or homelessness, as well as other types of basic-needs insecurity that can serve as barriers to degree completion and thereby limit economic sustainability and mobility.

“From HCC, the foundation is looking to connect with our existing support services on the academic side — so, admissions, financial-aid counseling, career advising, and guidance on transferring from HCC to a four-year institution and just learning what kind of education and training is required for specific career pathways,” said Jeff Hayden, HCC’s vice president of Business and Community Services. “It’s a natural fit between an agency that works to support young women and a college, HCC, which is known for its wraparound support model.”