CARA Partnership Powers New Peer Support at TCC

With the support of ECMC Foundation and in partnership with The Foundation for Tacoma Students, CARA’s peer to peer persistence model has been off and running at Tacoma Community College in Tacoma Washington since January of 2022. This summer, Shalema Henderson (Senior Director of College Allies and Persistence Partnerships), finally had the opportunity to visit Tacoma and observe their peer leadership program in action.

At their summer training, four peer leaders from Tacoma Community College explored a variety of CARA’s adapted sessions, including Communicating with College Professors, Outreach and Engagement Strategies, and Major and Career Exploration. Peer Leaders had a chance to reflect on their own experiences navigating persistence obstacles and shared inspiring stories of ways they have already supported students to re-enroll in college, receive financial support, explore major options on their campus, and navigate college life post Covid. Shalema noted how many of the challenges they shared are similar to obstacles that NYC peer leaders face, and that the motto they came up with – “Be Real, Be Available” – echoes the approach of their NYC colleagues.

This September, these newly trained Peer Leaders will be supporting 400-500 first generation, low income students of color to navigate persistence obstacles, and develop a sense of belonging at TCC; and plans are in the works to add a second campus by January of 2024. We look forward to continuing to support this work in Washington state!

This article was originally published in the College Access: Research & Action September newsletter